Rep. Bennett introduces bill discouraging sale of stolen goods at pawn shops
STATE HOUSE – Buying something and later finding out that is was stolen property is disappointing enough.
But buying stolen property and then having the seller refuse to refund the purchase price is adding insult to injury.
Rep. David A. Bennett has introduced legislation that would make pawn shop owners face criminal penalties and be civilly liable for not only the purchase price, but also interest and lawyer’s fees for anyone to whom they sell stolen property if they refuse to grant that person a refund.
“Customers have no way to know whether an item at a pawn shop has landed there by legitimate or illegitimate means. They shouldn’t be the ones who lose money if an item they buy is stolen property. But those who run pawn shops can tell. This bill eliminates the potential financial interest they have in looking the other way, instead giving them a strong interest in diligently avoiding accepting stolen items,” said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston).
Under the legislation (2016-H 7027), all items sold at pawn shops would have to come with an absolute warrantee that the pawn shop owner could lawfully possess and sell it. Any purchaser who finds out their item was stolen would be entitled to a refund, plus 12 percent annual interest.
Pawn shop owners who refuse would face loss of their license to operate their store, a $2,000 fine and up to a year in prison. They would also be civilly liable for the purchase price and interest, plus any costs the customer faces in his or her effort to pursue the refund, including lawyer’s fees.
Representative Bennett introduced the legislation Jan. 7. It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903