California Pawnbrokers Association (CAPA) Demands Compliance from Coin and Secondhand Dealers

Proposed California Legislation AB 391(Pan) as amended in the Senate, has gained universal support from statewide law enforcement groups and several individual police jurisdictions.  The bill would allow the California Department of Justice to create and administer an online database to which secondhand dealers would electronically report their transactions the same day they occur. The bill is supported by California pawnbrokers, as they already comply with state required data tracking procedures.

With over 82 Democratic and Republican co-authors in the State Legislature and strong sponsorship from Attorney General Harris of the Department of Justice, Dr. Pan’s AB 391 is widely expected to be sent to the Governor’s desk this summer.

Secondhand dealers are already required to report transactions to law enforcement in an effort to dissuade any type of illegal activity. The new legislation would help law enforcement automate the process and would increase effectiveness of tracking these types of transactions. By comparing transactions reported to the database with recently reported thefts, law enforcement can identify the stolen property, putting them on the trail of those who stole the property.  

Controversy, however, has erupted from a very small group of coin and bullion dealers, who have been flying under law enforcement’s radar with the ineffectual paper reporting system currently in use. In a recent open letter produced by the California Coin & Bullion Merchants Association (CCBMA), the group voices its opposition to the legislation in an apparent effort to carve their members out of compliance, citing, “AB 391 (Pan) is a ‘scheme’ to benefit pawnbrokers.” Further, the CCBMA stated in a Senate Public Safety Committee on May 8, 2012, that the legislation is a “sweetheart deal” for pawnbrokers as a result of a conspiracy between law enforcement, the Department of Justice and the pawn industry in California!

Here are the facts;

  • This database is 12 years in the making, stemming from the passage of SB 1520 (Schiff) in 2000
  • The Attorney General is the sponsor of AB 391 (Pan)
  • AB 391 (Pan) has the unanimous support of Law Enforcement
  • AB 391 (Pan) is the result of 18 months of open negotiations between the law enforcement community, the Department of Justice, and industry

“The real agenda here is CCBMA never wants this system to become operational,” says Tony DeMarco, CAPA First Vice President. “In their open letter to AG Harris and the Legislature, they say they were ‘involved’ in prior legislation to fund the electronic system. Their only involvement was to oppose the bill unless amendments were taken that would assure that prior legislation would not pass, and the system would not be built.”

The California Pawnbrokers Association (CAPA), representing over 850 pawnbrokers throughout the state, supports the fee AB 391 would call on pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers to pay in order to fund the database.

CAPA Responds to Inaccuracies in Antique Trader Article on AB 391

An article, “AB 391 lumps antiques dealers with pawnbrokers, may cripple California antiques trade”, was published on the Antique Trader website on May 25, 2012. The article contains significant errors regarding proposed changes in transaction reporting procedures and how AB 391 would affect antiques dealers.

 

 

Read CAPA’s response to the article.

May 25, 2012

Antique Trader
Mr. Eric Bradley
Editor and Online Content Manger

RE:  Antique Trader Article: “AB 391 lumps antiques dealers with pawnbrokers, may cripple California antiques trade”

On behalf of the California Pawnbrokers Association, I would like to state that there are significant errors in the article published on the Antiques Trader Blog on May 25, 2012 “AB 391 lumps antiques dealers with pawnbrokers, may cripple California antiques trade”. Most importantly, the proposed bill AB 391 does not unfairly target antique dealers. There is nothing in AB 391 (Pan) that requires an antique dealer to report transactions. AB 391 proposes to fund regulations that are already in current law.
 
If an antique dealer buys “tangible personal property” from the public, they, along with any other business that deals in secondhand tangible personal property, are already required to report transactions to law enforcement in an effort to dissuade any type of illegal activity. The new legislation would help law enforcement automate the process and would increase effectiveness of tracking these types of transactions. By comparing transactions reported to the database with recently reported thefts, law enforcement can identify the stolen property, putting them on the trail of those who stole the property.

The Department of Justice has identified 4457 businesses who must currently report. The California State Board of Equalization has identified some 95,000 businesses holding resale licenses. There are a growing number of retail businesses that formerly sold only new merchandise who now deal in products on the secondhand market. The universe of business models that fall under the reporting requirements of current law is immense. Under current California statute (Business and Professions Code Section(s) 21628 & 21630), pawnbrokers, secondhand dealers and others are required to submit daily a JUS123 form for each transaction to the Attorney General and local law enforcement.
 
Several years ago the Department of Justice notified secondhand dealer licensees that they no longer had sufficient room to store the forms and lacked the resources to process the paper JUS123 forms. Consequently, pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers now send them to local law enforcement only. As local jurisdictions suffer from the same lack of resources, they have approached the statutory requirements of handling these forms in mainly three (3) ways:

  1. The forms sit in a box somewhere until local law enforcement needs to look for a specific transaction;
  2. They use critically limited human resources to manually catalog the forms for future use, and
  3. In a few cases, agencies have contracted with third-party providers in an attempt to create some form of an internal electronic data system that does not interface with other jurisdictions.

 
One of the biggest failures of the current paper system is the inability for the various jurisdictions to interact in an efficient manner to share property reporting. For instance, criminals can travel short distances, change jurisdictions and attempt to unload stolen property with minimal likelihood of being caught because there is no efficient inter-jurisdictional communication relative to tangible personal property reporting. The current system is so cumbersome that many jurisdictions have abandoned maintaining their paper systems altogether.
 
Clearly the citizens of California have an antiquated, inaccurate, inefficient, and flawed reporting system that has been essentially unchanged since the middle of the last century. This problem was thought to have been solved in the year 2000 with the passage of SB1520 (Schiff), which called for a statewide and uniform electronic reporting system. That legislation was never funded and the system still does not exist twelve years later.
 
The benefits of a statewide and uniform reporting system would be increased property recovery, a more efficient tool for law enforcement and a less costly and more efficient use of the pawnbrokers and secondhand dealer’s financial resources.

Best regards,

Emmett Murphy

California Pawnbrokers Association
External Communications