How Long Will Pawn Shops Keep Records On File?
Okay, now I know this is typically the type of question somebody might ask if they are afraid that something they owned was stolen and taken to a pawn shop.
That having been said, it’s a perfectly valid question.
The problem with this question is that the answer isn’t going to be universal among all pawn shops.
There’s going to be some degree of variance between pawn shops, and this is based on a variety of things.
For instance, some pawnbrokers are going to be advised by their attorneys to keep records longer than others.
In addition, some states will require that pawn shops keep records longer than in other states as well.
Lastly, there are going to be software limitations were the software that pawn shops use to track records may only hold those records in file for a given period of time.
Of course, none of that takes into account pawn shops that still do everything by hand. Yes, believe it or not, there are pawn shops out there that still do all of their record-keeping with pen and paper.
For example, I know this might sound crazy, but the city of Cleveland, Ohio requires that pawn shops submit written identification cards to track the transactions that they conduct on a daily basis.
Why they don’t use electronic filing like every other department that I know of, I have no idea. However, it works for them and that’s just what they do.
How long do pawn shops keep their records on file? This question usually comes up when someone is trying to track down or follow up on stolen merchandise that may have been sold to a pawn shop.
What You Can Reasonably Expect From A Pawn Shop As Far As The Length Of Time That They Will Keep Records
If we are going to talk about industry average, or a likely scenario for most pawn shops across the country, I would say that a reasonable length of time that pawn shops will keep records will be between three and five years.
This is for a variety of reasons, due to a variety of limitations as well.
For instance, most pawn shops are only going to be required to keep records for approximately 3 years by their local state laws.
That of course is not a national statistic, and may not be true in every state.
However, from what I have seen, that seems to be a pretty fair average from state to state.
Now, just because a pawn shop may be required to keep the records for three years, that doesn’t mean that they don’t keep them longer.
For instance, a popular piece of software that pawn shops use, PawnMaster, will typically keep records between 7 and 10 years, depending on the amount of storage available on the server that is keeping the records for them.
Now, that is not something that you can bet on or write in stone. Like I said earlier, this is going to be something that will vary from state to state, store to store, and pawnbroker to pawnbroker.
How Long Can Police Departments Get Pawn Shop Records
Well, just like anyone else, Police Departments are going to be relatively limited in how far back they can retrieve pawn shop records.
Yet keep in mind, that if the records of the transactions are no longer stored in the hard drive of the server for the software that records the pawn shop’s transactions, there is nothing that a police permit can do to try and get those transactions back.
Additionally, if a pawn shop is only legally required to keep the records for between three and five years, there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
They don’t have any magical powers, or special rights that anyone else does or doesn’t in regards to the length of time that pawn shop records are kept and are accessible.
Mandy Dormain started working for Pawn Nerd in 2020. Mandy grew up in a small town in northern Tennessee. But moved to New York for university. Before joining Pawn Nerd, Mandy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for several radio stations. She covers politics and economy stories.