Dumb criminals

From Florida, a story about a burglar who thought he’d fence the sterling silver he’d robbed at a pawn shop.

It didn’t faze him that the pawnbroker demanded that he produce a driver’s license and give a thumb print. (The same procedure is required by law in Hawaii and followed rigorously at Kamaaina Loan.)

Perhaps he thought, they’ll never connect the dots. Little did he know.

All the local detectives had to do — once the victim had reported the loss and provided some identifying information (in this case, a “D” monogram on the silver flatware) — was look in Pawn FINDER for a record of a pawnshop acquisition of a set of flatware with a D monogram.

A simple collar. http://http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49519029/ns/local_news-fort_myers_fl/t/thief-arrested-pawning-silverware/

There are a number of electronic pawn reports in use around the country. Kamaaina Loan has one of the oldest — two actually, one in a secure server for access by Maui law enforcement, pawnreport.com, which is similar to Pawn FINDER; and another, public free service for victims, mypawnreport.com, where victims of theft crimes can post (after filing a police report) information about what was lost.

It’s one thing for a burglar to leave a fingerprint for police to find at the scene. It’s a higher level of stupidity to give up a fingerprint on purpose when fencing the swag. But there are some really stupid criminals out there.


Sad news — a good customer lost

Mary Unwin in her Aston-Martin

From England, a story about a minor celebrity pawn customer. Mary Unwin was featured on a British TV show about luxury pawnshops.

Following her divorce, she wanted to buy an Aston-Martin but was about 5,000 pounds (say nearly $10,000) short, so she pawned a diamond ring to get it.

She told the interviewer, “Since when do ladies want to wait for anything.”

Sadly, it looks as if her impatience may have cost her her life.

Since that show, according to the Mail Online, she had remarried her original husband and over the weekend bought a sailboat. (She paid by check, no word whether she had to resort to her pawnbroker.)

Jerry Hobkirk, who owns Falmouth Yacht Brokers, said he had warned the couple against trying to sail the vessel without proper training.

He said: ‘They came in and bought the boat, which was moored up in Falmouth marina.

‘Mrs Unwin seemed totally determined to take the yacht as quickly as possible.

‘She told us she had a ‘navy ticket’, which didn’t mean anything to us but which she said was some sort of qualification.

‘We urged them to go and get some proper sailing qualifications at a local yacht school and assumed she would do so over the next few months.

‘But the next thing we heard she had taken the yacht and set off.’

But it appears that the sailboat wrecked, and Mary Unwin, who couldn’t wait, is missing at sea.




Pawn reality TV coming to Britain

The Pawn Stars franchise has announced it will televise a British version. The original, Nevada-based Pawn Stars is already big in Britain.

Apparently, television viewers just cannot get enough of us fascinating pawnbrokers — or is it the customers who keep them tuning in? In any event,

“We’re excited that Leftfield Pictures will be producing this new, original version of History’s most successful global brand,” Christian Murphy, senior VP of international programming and marketing for A&E Networks, said in a statement, reports WorldScreen. “This commission establishes a new model whereby History channels around the world will own this phenomenal franchise extension.”

It’s always nice to be a part of history.



Reality TV fight

According to gossip site TMZ, Wayne Jefferies, one-time manager of the Pawn Stars crew is suing them. The split came earlier this year:

But according to the suit, things fell apart earlier this year  . . . when network honchos became upset over a story Jefferies claims he leaked to TMZ. The story detailed how the “Pawn Stars” cast was blindsided when they learned A&E had commissioned a “Cajun Pawn Stars” spinoff.

First we’ve heard about Cajun Pawn Stars. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to watch hot pawn action around the clock.

Wonk alert! A hot issue in the pawn world

All pawnshops are regulated by the states, and some municipalities add additional regulations. The national government is not involved.

But there’s a move to create a national pawn structure. It would be similar to the situation with commercial banks, which can seek either a state or a federal charter. (The majority of banks have state charters, including the big ones in Hawaii.)

The National Pawnbrokers Association is against http://act.nationalpawnbrokers.org/7851/federal-charter-hr-6139/ national regulation, but there is a minority of the membership that disagrees:

The National Pawnbrokers Association opposes any legislation that grants authority to the federal government to charter, regulate, supervise and examine non-depositary providers of credit services and products to consumers. These responsibilities have traditionally been managed by the states. The NPA has been monitoring, H.R. 6139, which authorizes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to grant “federal charters” to non-depository providers of financial services who meet fairly exclusive requirements.   

This may not seem to be much of an issue for customers, but it can be.

Think of it like you do credit cards. Your credit card issuer is almost certainly domiciled in South Dakota, which has VERY credit card issuer-friendly laws. S.D.’s laws are not so friendly to credit card holders, though.




Pawn 101: You can take me to the fair

The Joy Zone (photo by Forest & Kim Starr)

(with apologies to Lerner & Lowe)

The Friday afternoon of Maui Fair week is always busy at Kamaaina Loan. The reason offers insight into what pawnshops really mean to their communities, rather than what the common opinion is.

If you went to the fair, no doubt you saw some slightly harassed looking guys herding 8, 9, 10 or so kids through the Joy Zone and the food booths. These were good guys — uncles maybe — seeing to it that the neighbor keiki had a good, safe time.

When you start thinking about filling up 10 growing boys and girls with chili and rice, though, the cash outlay can be daunting. Quite a few people turn to the pawnshop for ready cash.

This contradicts the view that pawnshops attract the desperate, the unemployed and the near-destitute. In fact, pawnshops are able to help people in those categories, but as bank economist John Caskey was surprised to find (in a study done in the early ’90s for the Russell Sage Foundation, published as “Fringe Banking: Check-Cashing Outlets, Pawnshops and the Poor”), pawnshops reach a much wider clientele.

Most customers are employed, although many in jobs that feature periods of temporary layoffs. Caskey went to pawnshops and interviewed customers to see who they were and what they depended on the pawn lender to do for them.

He was surprised to find that a substantial part of the business came from ordinary folks who took out pawn loans for a night or weekend on the town.

Not everybody has an ATM card, and if you are contemplating spending a couple hundred dollars at the Maui Fair, there might not be that much in your bank account anyway.

A fast pawn loan could be the answer.

It is for many people.

This was the first year that Kamaaina Loan advertised its pawn loans direct to fairgoers. If you had a good time at the fair with our help, we’re gratified.

The photograph of the Joy Zone comes from the invaluable photographic archive of Maui life being added to by Forest & Kim Starr. Mahalo to Forest and Kim.

Credit score shenanigans

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (according to a http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-25/consumers-given-different-credit-scores-than-lenders-cfpb-says.html report by Bloomberg News) has found that in about one case out of 5, your credit score that one of the credit rating agencies tells you is not the same as the score they tell a lender you have.

The story does not say whether the scores given to creditors are usually lower than the same person’s score given to a lender, but the implication is that that is the case:

Specifically, the bureau found that one in five consumers would likely receive a ‘meaningfully different’ score than their lender, potentially resulting in harm to those consumers. At the same time, consumers are unlikely to know about the discrepancy

The story continues:

‘Consumers who have reviewed their own score may expect a certain price from a lender, may waste time and effort applying for loans they are not qualified for, or may accept offers that are worse than they could get,’ according to the study.


Of course, if you come to Kamaaina Loan, we won’t ask your credit score, and you’ll qualify for a pawn loan on exactly the same basis as everybody else, whether you are a zillionaire hocking a gold Rolex or a construction worker between jobs raising gas money on his (temporarily unneeded) air compressor.





Pawn 101: Lucky we pawn on Maui

Not needed at our pawn shop

This past week’s episode of “Hard Core Pawn,” the reality show shot in Detroit featured this http://cleverrealitytv.com/2012/09/16/hardcore-pawn-94-news-flash-pawn-shops-sell-your-stuff-les-finds-a-ruby-in-the-rough-a-muscular-woman-rock-em-sock-em-robots-and-crazy-comes-in-all-colors-in-detroit/incident:

A guy then went up to Rich’s window complaining about a generator he bought less than 12 hours ago from the shop. Rich said the thing was ‘as-is’ and there was nothing he could do about it. The guy was very big and loud. Rich was arguing with the guy and Les was watching the confrontation. Rich was pissed off more than usual at this guy and he went to go out front. The customer ripped off he jacket and got ready to maul Rich and his goatee of death. The big security guards were holding the customer back. Les went outside to talk to the guy to try and help. Les said he would check out the generator and then had a repair man fix it. The guy was happy with the end result.

(From the Clever Reality website.)

To be clear, that was Detroit Rich, not Big Rich of Market Street.

Kamaaina Loan doesn’t even have security guards. No need on North Market Street.

The “as-is” sale policy is the same everywhere among the nation’s 13,000-plus pawnshops. That applies to items coming in as well as going out.

If you  bring in, say, a computer or a cellphone, to sell or to get a loan on, you’ll  be asked to turn it on, and, if necessary, enter your password.

You’d be surprised, maybe, how many people bring in a dead cellphone without a charger and expect to get money for it.

Charge ’em up at home or bring your charger with you. (And why can’t you just plug it in to the USB port on the computer on the counter? Because that’s a good way to infect our system with computer viruses.)



Pawn 101: Borrowing local vs. national

In a previous post, we talked about a Kamaaina Loan customer who needed — and got — cash just overnight.

The only way to do this is to deal with a local pawnbroker.

There are Internet pawnbrokers, but it takes a little while to get a loan with them. If you need cash within hours (or on the weekend), then local is your only option. (We are talking here about people who don’t have money to get out of ATMs and suchlike.)

There is a question whether Internet pawnbroking is legal.

Pawnbroking has always been regulated, and in the early days of the United States, regulation was done by cities. The first pawn regulations were passed in New York City about 200 years ago.

As the country grew, and pawnshops grew along with them, in both extent and numbers, the states took over regulation (although cities can impose additional regulation on top of state rules).

Although pawnshops are subject to some national laws (like anti-moneylaundering laws), the Congress has never specifically passed pawn regulations. Unlike banks, which have a choice of seeking a federal or a state charter, pawnshops are all state-controlled.

Or were, until the rise of Internet pawnbroking. There does not appear to be any way an Internet pawnbroker can be in compliance with state regulations. For example, most states prevent taking a pawn pledge out of their jurisdictions during the mandatory hold period. But the essence of an Internet pawn is that you send your gold to an address somewhere else.

It might be that the pawn does not begin until the item arrives at the Internet pawn office, wherever that is, but this theory has not yet been tested in courts.

Something to think about next time you are planning to place your valuable property temporarily in the hands of a pawnbroker.





Postmortem on the reality shoot

Bob McCullough of Pawn  Stories says he got enough good footage in 2 days to fill 3 30-minute shows  (with 22 or 23 minutes of program per show).

Our customers came through like champions.

Pick of the litter were 2 Father Damien postcards that were authenticated by out expert and valued at several hundred dollars.

So check the back of your desk drawer for old postcards, yeagh?

Dog of the days was probably the old home-remedy case containing about 20 vials of medicines that go back to the days of ancient Greece and beyond, like nux vomica (an emetic) and aconite (a nasty poison).

Most of the vials were empty, but the one marked “opium” still had 7 tablets in it. Our customer hadn’t noticed that.

The tablets may have been about 100 years old, and no doubt the opium has lost its potency by now. But we had to tell him, “We cannot buy opium.”

Stay tuned for even more news about reality pawn television.

Father Damien