The Digital Age Still Hasn’t Hit Pawn Shops

There was a recent news story about Sioux City. They want to update their pawn ticket reporting system to something digital – leadsonline is a commonly used service.

I think this is great news! Having to fill out little cards for each transaction is a major pain for pawn shops. It’s also slow and pretty ineffective for most police departments that employ this method.

I know in Cleveland, they still use a manual, written system. I hear it’s not to bad – but I sure wouldn’t want to use it.

But is going 100% digital really the right thing to do some might ask?

I can’t blame them for wondering and it’s honestly a really good question to put forward. After all, this industry has been around for thousands of years and has done just fine without being digital all that time.

So with that in mind, here is my opinion on the topic and what it may mean for the pawn industry overall.

Why shouldn’t things be digital?

If you ask me – pawn records should be 100% digital. There’s no reason to do things by hand anymore.

Let’s face it –

  • It’s better for not just the pawn shop who won’t have to fill out little cards by hand.
  • It’s better for the police department who won’t have to file and store those little cards.
  • It’s better for the public hoping to recover stolen merchandise from a pawn shop (if it ended up there.)

Sounds like a WIN-WIN-WIN situation to me.

However, there is a problem.

How do you actually do that?

Security Concerns….

lock_200Typically cities that have gone digital rely on some kind of third party that specializes in information aggregation to handle the process and system.

Seems okay, right?

Wrong. (In my opinion….)

I don’t feel handing a customer’s information over to some third party to get it to the police department (whom has a lawful right to it) is Kosher.

I’m not suggesting that the third party would do anything with that information – however – it is a second point of failure for any potential information leak no matter how secure it is as far as I can tell. In an age when there is government level cyber warfare – I can’t believe that any digital information is 100% secure.

But Overall

I think moving to a digital system is a great idea.

It’s better for everyone!

I just hope the security of the information itself never becomes a concern. That is the only potential drawback I can see.

 

The Article That Inspired This Post: http://globegazette.com/news/iowa/sioux-city-wants-to-track-pawn-shop-sales-better/article_8c7c866e-ef60-11e2-b4fc-001a4bcf887a.html?comment_form=true

SIOUX CITY (AP) — Sioux City police want all pawn shop transactions to be entered into a central electronic database, a cost-effective move they say will make it quicker and easier to track down stolen items.

Police say the system would let business owners enter transaction information directly into a computer database instead of filling out a pink card that’s later added in. That can take up to two weeks or more and hinder an investigation because the stolen item might be sold by then.

The proposed system would require the business owner to take a photograph of the merchandise and the seller. The merchandise would then appear on a national database within 24 hours of a sale.

Pawn show brokers in the city are currently required to fill out a pink card with information about the item they buy and the seller. That information is later picked up by police. Police Detective Zach Lewis visits 17 licensed pawn shops, precious gem and metals dealers and jewelry stores to collect the cards. That amounts to 44,000 cards a year.

“This is much more efficient and uses modern technology to advance law enforcement,” he said. “I could spend more time working my cases.”

LeadsOnline, a technology company based in Plano, Texas, would provide the service for $6,700 a year. Police said the city would save $1,600 a year by not having to print and process the pink cards. The service would be free to business owners.

The department, which formed a committee last year to study the plan, said it’s gathering information to present to the City Council in the fall.

“Before we start to do this, we wanted to make sure the technology has developed so it created ease of use for the businesses and provided the information we require,” said Police Capt. Mel Williams.

The proposal by police would include changing a city ordinance to require secondhand dealers and merchants who sell items for a few days to also register their purchases online and pay a license fee.