Fair’s fair

You may not realize it, but Hawaii law requires second-hand dealers to follow the same rules as pawnbrokers — keep records of all incoming merchandise, and of the IDs, addresses and other information about the sellers (or borrowers in the case of pawn customers).

The reason you may not know this is that island second-hand dealers routinely ignore the law and enforcement is slight. Pawnbrokers, and our Maui pawn shop for sure, follow the rules strictly.

Why not? Our owner helped write that statute decades ago.

If you think it makes little sense to require pawn shops to keep careful records to discourage fences but to allow second-hand dealers a free pass, the idea is gaining some currency. For example,  this Boston Globe story explains the outcry when police advised consignment stores — often selling expensive goods like Prada — that they, too, needed to cooperate in deterring thieves.

Reporter Beth Healey provides a good overview of the competing arguments, including one from a defense attorney about civil liberties. He’s going to lose that one.

Unusually, though, Healey ends by revealing one of the dirty little secrets of the anti-pawn shop mindset — it’s about scorning working people:


Goldstein [a pawnbroker] said that out of fairness, consignment stores should follow the same rules.

If stricter measures are being applied to people in less affluent neighborhoods with lower economic means, he asked, “Are they being implemented with people on Charles Street and Newbury Street?”