Each day, Lacey-based pawnshop Cash Northwest reports every item it receives to both the Lacey Police Department and a national law enforcement database.
State law requires pawnshops and other secondhand-item dealers to hold purchased items for 30 days to allow police to check for stolen goods. That’s been the law owner Bruce Dobbs has followed since he got into the business 30 years ago.
“We have always gone by the state statute,” he added.
But until recently, it had been legal for Dobbs’ shop and other secondhand-item dealers in Lacey to sell items they bought after four days – a discrepancy that the Lacey City Council recently changed to match state law.
Never miss a local story.
The change comes in part because Cabela’s outdoors store resold a stolen firearm in July within one week of purchase, according to Lacey police.
Cabela’s reported the firearm’s serial number to the Police Department, Chief Dusty Pierpoint said. By the time the investigation revealed the gun was stolen, it had been resold. The firearm later was recovered.
“Nobody did anything wrong,” Pierpoint said, saying Cabela’s acted within the law. “Four days is not enough time for the typical paperwork to make its rounds.”
That’s one of the reasons Pierpoint pushed for the law change.
Management at Cabela’s has informed staff members about the new law and now holds items for 30 days, according to a company spokesperson.
Stores that take in secondhand items, such as coin, gold and silver and jewelry stores, must also retain property and report inventory to law enforcement agencies.
And while four days might not be enough time for law enforcement to investigate inventories, technology has come a long way in speeding up the process.
With inventory reporting now done online, Dobbs says he gets information out faster and, if property is stolen, receives calls almost immediately from law enforcement agencies from across the state and country.
“That’s been beneficial,” Dobbs said.
There are about 3,000 secondhand-item transactions per month within city limits, most of which come from Cash Northwest, according to police data. Not all transactions are easy to trace back as stolen property. Items that do not have serial numbers and that aren’t unique, such as rings and other jewelry, are harder to trace.
Dobbs said the number of items that come up stolen at his store matches national averages: less than one-tenth of 1 percent.
On one day this week, Dobbs’ store took in 80 pawned items. Like every day, those items were logged into a computer and sent to law enforcement agencies. Unlike sold items, pawned items are held for 90 days with a seven-day grace period, Dobbs said.
“A lot of people are coming in that are just in a bad position,” he said.
He has less sympathy for those who bring in stolen goods.
“If you stole something, bringing it here isn’t the brightest thing you’ve done in your life,” he said.
Nate Hulings: 360-754-5476 firstname.lastname@example.org