Can pawnshops tell you who pawned an item?

Can pawnshops tell you who pawned an item?

Trading valuable items at local pawnshops in exchange for much-needed cash is extremely common in South Africa. Pawnshops buy and sell almost anything you can imagine. From second-hand jewelry, electronics, and furniture to power-tools, sporting equipment, and everything in between. However, when buying or selling items at a pawnshop what type of documentation and records do pawnshops keep?

Do they keep a list of everyone who has pawned an item and are they able to disclose this information to the general public? Finding out if someone has pawned a specific item is a common question. In most instances, you will only be able to access this information if you are the rightful owner of the item in question and can prove it has been stolen. There is a common misconception that criminals take stolen goods to pawnshops to make a quick buck, however, pawnshops follow a rigorous process when accepting any goods to ensure that they do not accept stolen items.


It is not easy to find out if a specific item has been pawned at a pawnshop. Although each pawnshop has a record of what has been pawned and by who, they do not by law need to disclose this information to members of the general public. It would be better to conduct your own search for the item at various pawnshops in the area and see if it is for sale.


You will only be able to find it if it was sold for cash. If it was used as collateral on a loan it will be locked up for safe-keeping. If you do manage to find the item you are looking for the pawnbroker does not have to disclose who brought it in, unless it is part of an investigation.


Although it may be difficult, we've put together a few tips on how to find out if someone pawned a specific item. In the case of a stolen item, it is important to act quickly as you could find that the item has already changed hands.

Proof of ownership:

The first step in trying to find out if an item has been pawned is to prove that you are the lawful owner of the item. Gather evidence that will assist you in this. Look for the receipt of the item, appraisal certificates, registration papers, photographs, etc. These will all help your case.

Open up a police case:

Although you might be hesitant to get the police involved, especially if you only misplaced the item, this is imperative in order to recover your items. A police report shows the pawnbroker that the item has in fact been stolen and that you are the rightful owner. Each pawnshop is compelled by law to submit a list of items pawned to the authorities which get cross- checked against the stolen items database. By starting an official investigation, the police will have access to all of these lists and databases.


Start searching locally Find local pawn shops in your neighborhood and visit each shop. Look around for your item. You might get lucky and spot it on the shelves of one of your local pawnshops. If you do manage to find your item, call the police immediately and they will let you know how to proceed.

What records to pawnshops keep?

If you've ever spotted an item in a pawnshop that you wanted to purchase but were afraid it could have been a stolen item, you've probably wondered what type of record-keeping pawn shops undertake. Each pawnshop will gather personal information from the seller in order to comply with government regulations. During every sale, the pawnshop will request an ID document from the seller. A copy will be taken and this will then be filed for safekeeping.


Every new item that is brought in is also placed into inventory and logged on the nationwide database which gets monitored daily by the police. Depending on the software used and the various regulations, pawnshop records are usually kept for between 3 and 5 years. Thereafter, pawnshops will discard this personal information by shredding any
paper documentation and deleting any electronic files.


The pawnshop industry holds a very close relationship with the local police departments as they are often a key resource in recovering stolen items. If you suspect an item has been stolen and possibly pawned at your local pawn shop the best option is to first go to the police and open up a case. The authorities are the only ones who have access to the various databases and lists to check if your item has indeed been pawned, and will then assist in returning the item to you safely.

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