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.