SMYRNA — The city of Smyrna is taking cues from unincorporated Cobb County when considering how to move forward with a controversial pawn shop ordinance.
The Cobb Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance July 23 mandating that pawn shop and precious metal business owners report transactions, items pawned and photos of customers pawning items to police through an electronic database maintained by a private corporation.
Smyrna had a similar provision in effect but suspended it waiting to see how the county would address the issue.
“We delayed implementing the electronic reporting requirement, not the entire ordinance, to first get feedback from pawn shops,” said Eric Taylor, city administrator. “Then we held off to see what the county was doing to implement.”
Taylor said the city wants to be compatible with the county’s ordinance and use the same vendor for the database. Cobb has not yet selected a vendor.
The electronic reporting provision in Smyrna has been suspended until Oct. 21 when Taylor hopes to implement it again.
Cobb’s ordinance saw criticism from some pawn shop owners who thought providing information to a third-party website is a security risk and who said taking photographs of customers is a violation of their privacy.
Smyrna is no exception.
“I think it’s over burdensome for the pawn shops and the customers,” said Jason Wallace, manager of Smyrna Pawn Brokers, at 630 Windy Hill Road near South Cobb Drive.
His store already reports serial and model numbers of equipment pawned and reports the names and finger prints of customers pawning items. The business also has 24-hour surveillance and tapes can be given to police if there is reason to believe a customer pawned a stolen item.
The added requirement of photographing customers is a violation of their rights, Wallace said, and he maintains customers should not need to be photographed to make a financial transaction. He compared pawn stores to banks.
“Just because a customer is pawning something, and our politicians might not be able to relate to having to pawn something, doesn’t mean that they need to be photographed,” Wallace said.