Contrary to the Hollywood portrayal of the pawn industry, thieves are no longer interested in selling their stolen merchandise to pawn shops, and any credible pawn shop doesn’t want stolen goods in their shop any more than you or I do.

How to Know if Pawn Items are Stolen

How Pawn Shops Identify Stolen Goods

Less than 0.1% of all pawn shop merchandise is identified as stolen goods. That is an incredibly low count of items. This extremely low percentage of stolen goods is that low because pawn shops will collect and require positive identification from every seller, along with a complete description of the item (which includes unique identification such as serial numbers, model numbers, etc.), and proof of ownership for big ticket items. Merchandise information is then sent to local authorities, although the regularity of data transmission varies and depends on local regulations. This data sharing between the pawn shop and authorities gives law enforcement the ability to cross-check merchandise with items reported as stolen. Let’s say an iPhone found in a pawn shop matches the serial number on an iPhone reported as stolen. The police would not only be able to recover the stolen item but they would also have the identification of the individual who sold the item to the pawn shop. Not exactly a wise move for a would-be thief.

Why Pawn Shops Care about Avoiding Stolen Merchandise

What about the pawn shop? What if they fail to report the item? Pawn shops are like any other business; their reputation matters and they take their relationship with local authorities seriously. Most shops will be diligent about their reporting because they want to be a trusted and respected institution in the community. Not to mention if an item that has been reported stolen is found in a pawn shop, the shop will likely be charged with receiving stolen goods. Overall, the benefits are high for pawn shops to ensure they are not accepting stolen goods.

Our best suggestion will always be to do your homework. Research several pawn shops in your area, read reviews of the shop online, and check if they’ve been reported to the Better Business Bureau. If you are thinking about purchasing an item from a pawn shop, ask the shop employees about their reporting policies and information on the items history. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and look for item elsewhere. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.