Department Press Release
Broward County – Dade County
Bronson Announces Sweep Of Broward County & Miami-Dade
County Pawn Shops
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson announced today that investigators from his department will conduct a countywide sweep of pawn shops in Broward & Dade Counties to make sure they are complying with regulations governing property identification on pawn transaction forms and to ensure all are properly licensed with the state.
The proactive inspections, which will begin Monday, are designed to enhance the consumer protections offered by Bronson’s department to consumers in Florida. Pawn brokers are required to accurately document property descriptions when conducting pawn transactions on a form approved by the department.
“It is important that pawn brokers are properly registered and properly documenting the items that they receive in a pawn transaction,” Bronson said. “Pawn brokers that fail to comply with those requirements allow those who engage in property theft a place to dispose of the property, which makes it harder for law enforcement to recover it.”
Bronson added that consumers are entitled to a copy of the pawn transaction form which clearly describes the property characteristics such as model, serial numbers and owner applied information. This includes providing the amount financed plus the finance charge which must be paid to redeem the pledged goods.
The sweep, which is expected to continue for the entire week, will involve visits to each of the county’s registered pawn shops, as well as visits to any unregistered facilities that investigators detect during their sweep.
Under Florida law, pawn brokers are required to be registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and those that do not face initial fines of up to $1,000. The law also requires that pawn brokers prepare pawn transaction forms which are used to give complete identification of property that is taken in as a pawn item to include any item which a pawn broker purchases. This allows law enforcement officials to locate property that may have been stolen and pawned at a local pawn shop.
Next week’s sweep is the first undertaken by the department involving pawn shops. Assisting with this sweep will be local law enforcement agencies in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Bronson emphasized that similar sweeps will be conducted in the future.
Across the state, approximately 1,100 pawn shops are registered with the department. Bronson explained the importance of pawn brokers being registered, saying that it allows his office to ensure that facilities are knowledgeable about the law and correctly documenting property descriptions when conducting a pawn transaction. Upon registration, the pawn shop license must be prominently displayed at the front desk or counter at each pawnshop so consumers know who to call if they have a complaint about a pawn transaction, Bronson said.
The Commissioner encourages all consumers who have a question or complaint against a pawn shop to call his department’s toll-free hotline – 1 800 HELP FLA (435-7352) – or visit the Division of Consumer Services website at www.800helpfla.com.