No longer. The recent case of a West Palm Beach city employee caught selling city equipment to a pawn shop underscores the point.
West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys know that laws enacted in recent years make it tougher for pawn shops and consumers alike. Pawn Shop owners may even find themselves on the wrong side of the law for not cooperating with reporting requirements.
The Florida Pawnbroking Act creates very specific guidelines for how purchased and sold items are to be tracked. It’s spelled out in Florida Statute 539.001. Part of this legislation mandates that at the time a pawnbroker enters into a pawn or purchase, the broker has to complete a transaction form. This form must include:
–The name and address of the shop;
–A complete and accurate description of the goods in question, including, applicable, the brand name, the model number, the serial number, the size, the color, the metal type, the gemstone description, the type of caliber or gauge and any other identifying marks, numbers, letters or names.
–The name, address, date of birth, physical description and right thumbprint of the seller;
–The date and time of the transaction;
–The type of identification accepted from the seller or pledgor.
This is just the beginning. Many pawn shops, in an effort to further insulate themselves, have installed video cameras.
Plus, many local municipalities have enacted measures that allow law enforcement agencies to access an electronic database of pawn shop sales, in an effort to glean information regarding potential suspicious activity.
This brings us to the 50-year-old city employee who allegedly tried to pawn city property in order to make a few extra dollars.
The Sun Sentinel reports that a concerned citizen actually reported the suspect, who arrived at the shop driving his city vehicle and was pawning a large amount of mechanical equipment.
The anonymous tip first came in to the Office of the Inspector General. It doesn’t appear that, at least initially, the equipment had been reported stolen, which was probably part of the reason that law enforcement’s regular database checks didn’t immediately turn up anything suspicious.
However, once investigators began delving deeper into the case generated by the anonymous complaint, they were able to search pawn shop databases to learn that he had been pawning tools, jewelry and electronics since the beginning of the year.
Some of the city-owned items he allegedly pawned include:
-an electrical multitester for $300;
-a hammer drill for $220;
-two cordless drills, a pump, a ratchet, saw blades and a concrete saw for $770.
In each of those transactions, the employee was required to sign an affidavit swearing to be the lawful owner of those items. He signed it, police said, but he was not the owner. The City was.
He was subsequently arrested and charged with grand theft, five counts of dealing in stolen property and five counts of false verification of ownership of pawned items.
Additionally, he’s been fired, and the city has since increased security measures to protect its equipment.
A skilled defense attorney may be able to plea down some of these charges, but one should understand that when pawnshops are involved, the evidence against you can become that much more difficult to overcome.
If you are charged with a crime in Palm Beach or Broward counties, contact the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert, a Partnership of Former Prosecutors, for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1.888.5.DEFEND.
West Palm city worker admits pawning city-owned equipment, police say, September 18, 2012, By Brett Clarkson, Sun Sentinel
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Family Members May Require Separate Legal Counsel, Sept. 8, 2012, West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog