Pawn Shop Safety

8/20/2016 by D. Cammarota

While the pawn shop business has been brought into the mainstream - even glamorized by such Hollywood hits as Pawnstars and Hardcore Pawn - they have a rather rough history of being unseemly places - places where criminal activity is considered an unfortunate, but very real part of doing business. But, how much of this is myth, and how much is reality? Are pawn shops a risky business that is inherently unsafe? And, how concerned should the average consumer be about patronizing a local shop?

"Pawn Shop Robbed!" is not an unusual headline to see. Pawn shops can be targets for a variety of reasons: they are known to keep an inventory of high-ticket items, they are oftentimes cash-based businesses and they frequently deal in firearms. However, according to a multitude of sources, pawn shops don't even make the top five of the most common robberies. Convenience stores, gas stations, banks and even plumbing supply stores are more likely than pawn shops to be robbed. So, if you are asking yourself, "Is it safe to visit a pawn shop near me?" The short answer is yes, of course it is.

In order for potential business owners and average consumers to feel at ease, it is helpful to understand why pawn shops have gotten a bad rap in the first place. While there are a variety of factors - not the least of which is pawn shops being associated with desperation - a major factor is that historically, pawn shops have been thought of as participants themselves on the criminal scene. Whether it is as receivers of stolen goods or purveyors of illegal fire arms, pawn shops have often been perceived as operating on the fringes and unlikely to report a crime themselves. Perhaps along the way there have been rogue shop owners who used their businesses to engage in illegal activity, but this is - and has never been - considered the norm. The pawn shop industry has always been about creating a venue for average folks in need of money who cannot find help through mainstream institutions.

It is true that pawn shop owners - especially those that deal in fire arms, need to be particularly aware. Unlike banks and large-chain convenience stores, pawn shops are usually small, mom-and-pop operations that are perceived as easier targets. But, it is precisely for this reason, that pawn shops have become increasingly safe places to do business. Most pawn shops are equipped with surveillance cameras and alarms that sound directly to the police. And, because pawn shops are at risk of dealing in stolen property, most have close relationships with local law enforcement. Shops are required to register every item they purchase and are the first place local police visit when there has been a robbery or burglary. Also, unlike many convenience stores, gas stations or banks, private pawn shop owners are free to carry their own firearm for personal protection.

Pawn shop robbery is by no means a thing of the past, but they are becoming less desirable targets due to the increase in security technology, awareness and tightened regulations. No potential entrepreneur should be deterred from going into the pawn shop business - nor should anyone looking to obtain a loan or purchase an item at a pawn shop be afraid. There is simply no evidence that pawn shops are more dangerous than any other business (in fact, they don't even land on the FBI's top five Uniform Crime Report on robberies) so fear not. As with any other type of business, it is important for shop keepers to have safety measures in place (The National Pawnbrokers Association has a very helpful set of guidelines on their website). It is also smart for consumers to trust their instincts. if you visit a place where you feel unsafe, move on to another local pawn shop. What you are most likely to find is a friendly place looking to help out a fellow neighbor in a pinch.

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