A sordid crime

From India, a story about pawn customers murdering a 14-year-old assistant in a pawn shop:

As usual, the complete records that pawn shops everywhere keep were a big help to the police in fingering the suspects. Every item in a pawn shop has a ticket that says who it came from, where he lives etc.

There are a few cultural differences between th4 pawn shop in Chennai and any American pawn shop.

For one, it would be unusual to find a young teenager left alone in a pawn shop. Here, you have to be 18 to  be a customer or to work in a pawn shop.

For another, the robbers got away with 6 pounds of gold. Few, if any, American pawn shops keep that amount of gold on hand. For  both safety and financial reasons, they ship out their gold regularly to refiners.

It doesn’t pay to keep gold lying around when you can so easily — and instantly — get a refiner to transfer cash into your account.

But India is by far the world’s biggest A shop in Chennaiimporter of gold. Indians have a strong tendency to keep their wealth in gold, rather than in a mutual fund; so Indian pawn shops probably move a lot more gold in a day than American shops do.

The word “lakh” in the story means 100,000 and is commonly used to count large numbers of rupees. So the robbers got about $1,900 worth of rupees, a tiny amount compared with the $350,000 worth of gold they carried off.

Chennai, by the way, is a huge city, with a population about equal to that of Manhattan.