The ordinance will require pawn and precious metals store owners to participate in an online digital database that gives police access to information and photos of pawn store inventory and customers.
Some business owners called the provision of the ordinance that requires photographing customers an invasion of privacy and raised opposition at public hearings.
Still, the commission passed it unanimously after hearing from a Cobb County police officer who oversees cases dealing with pawn shop and precious metals stores.
The new ordinance will make it easier for the police to find thieves looking to make a quick buck by selling stolen property, said Detective Pat Sullivan. Previously, store owners kept photographs of inventory, fingerprints of their customers and other documents and submitted a daily report to police. That left police responsible for the upkeep of software.
“I was installing and maintaining it,” Sullivan said. “Doable with 10 stores. Not doable with 95 stores.”
Commissioner Bob Ott said he understands concerns about privacy.
“What is of more concern to me is how the information is protected,” Ott said.
No federally maintained system exists, so police must use a private contractor for the service.
The ordinance says the police chief or his designee will choose the database, and a fee for each transaction reported through the system will be charged to each pawn shop by the contracted company. That fee is not known yet because it is based on the contract, yet to be negotiated, between the vendor and the county.