Local pawn shop owners said this week that it won't be a hassle if the General Assembly passes a proposed bill this session that would require them to photograph customers who pawn an item.
Senate Bill 192 is one of three bills under consideration this session that would require pawn shops to not only save the photographs of customers, but also of the item pawned and the customer's driver's license. The legislators who submitted the bills, which are identical, represent Newport News and Williamsburg.
"Our systems are set up to do that already," said Joe Knox, an employee at Downtown Gold and Pawn on Princess Anne Street. "If we chose to, we could take those pictures and add them to everything we do. It is just something we have never taken advantage of."
Knox said the pawn shop already requires customers to provide their Social Security numbers. Making people submit their Social Security numbers on public documents has become controversial, but pawn shops only share these documents with police and the customer.
Chris Behrens, owner of Cash Palace Pawn Shop on Rt. 1, said a lot of states are already taking photographs of customers involved in transactions.
Both Knox and Behrens said if this law passes it would not create a hardship.
"I am already computerized, so all it is would be probably hooking up a camera," he said. "Some places actually do a fingerprints, too. I wouldnt think it would be a huge financial thing. It is just a matter of getting a camera and some software to get it hooked up."
Pawn shops in Virginia are already required to share transaction information with police departments, which have databases they use to catch thieves. Behrens said that he has software that can read all of the information from a customer's driver's license by scanning the back of the ID, all of which goes on the report of the sale. Pawn shops add to the report the make and model of the item and the serial number, which is the key piece of information that police use in the database to catch thieves. This is why police always remind people to make sure they have serial numbers written down and saved of all of their valuable items.
The bill is in the General Laws Committee awaiting a vote.