A Clark County pawn shop owner was arrested in January on misdemeanor charges related to his business, but local and state pawnbrokers said this week the industry is highly regulated, making these kinds of cases unusual.
Information in Clark County Municipal Court shows Chris A. Haggy, 53, of 4522 Dowden St. in Springfield, has pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanors related to transactions at Pawn Star Pawn Shop, 2819 E. Main St. in Springfield, in January.
The charges are related to violations of state pawn shop rules, after he was accused of failing to maintain proper records related to gift cards he received. Haggy was accused of buying thousands of dollars in gift cards from customers below face value, and failing to report the items to law enforcement, said Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly.
Court records show Haggy is scheduled to face a pre-trial hearing in March.
Despite the incident, the vast majority of pawn shops across Ohio are reputable businesses that typically have a good relationship with law enforcement, said said Sam Beloff, who owns Rose City Fine Jewelry and Loan, 201 E. Washington St. in Springfield.
Ohio enacted laws as far back as the 1980s that required pawn shops to be licensed by the state, Beloff said. Those laws created uniform rules for pawn shops statewide, including limiting what owners could charge for interest and fees and added rules for what information must be shared with law enforcement. Tougher rules for dealing in scrap metals were also enacted within the last three years, he added.
Among their regulations, pawn shops must provide reports to law enforcement of every item they receive, as well as record the time and date of the transaction, among other items, Beloff said. His store also takes photos of sellers, along with other information. Most pawn shops in Clark County have a good relationship with law enforcement, he said.
“When it comes to stolen merchandise, that’s kind of a misnomer that fortunately seems to be cleared up over the years,” said Beloff, who also serves as an officer for the Ohio Pawnbroker’s Association. “Pawn shops nationally see less than one-tenth of one percent of stolen merchandise.”
Most individuals who deal with stolen merchandise now try to sell items online, at flea markets or even businesses out of state, Kelly said. Deputies have tracked items stolen in Clark County but sold a day later as far away as Colorado. He agreed most pawnbrokers and scrap dealers cooperate well with deputies.
“We’ve made a lot of arrests because of our relationships with scrap dealers and recycling centers,” Kelly said.
Although reality television shows like “Pawn Stars” are not always realistic, they have helped change the perception of the industry to a degree, said Lou Tansky, owner of Uncle Ben’s Pawn Shop in Cleveland.
“While reality shows are hardly real, what they’ve done is educated the public to a certain degree about what it is we do,” Tanksy said.