One of the biggest threats to the licensed pawn/secondhand dealer industry is the legal status of the property involved. The Minnesota statutes regulate the pawnbroker business, including how long records of transactions must be kept, the people who are eligible to pledge or sell property, and the place where pawned goods must be kept. During the transaction, pawnbrokers are required to record personal identifying details about the pledgor, including the pledgor’s full name, residence, telephone number, date of birth, driver’s license or ID card identification number, and a description of the pledgor, including approximate height, sex, and race. There is even a legal requirement that the printed pawn ticket that a pledgor signs at the end of the transaction must state “The pledgor of this item attests that it is not stolen, it has no liens or encumbrances against it, and the pledgor has the right to sell or pawn the item.” Pawnbrokers also may not refuse any appropriate law enforcement agency, state or federal, from inspecting the pawn records or goods in the broker’s possession during ordinary business hours.
All of this means that Minnesota law treat pawning stolen property very seriously.
Once stolen property has come to the attention of law enforcement, the agency will use the information the pawnbroker provides to track down the pledgor of the stolen property. While the person who pawned the stolen property may have committed theft or robbery outright, it is easier for the prosecution to prove the offense of receiving stolen property instead. All that is necessary for the prosecution to prove a person guilty of this charge is to show that the person received, possessed, transferred, bought, or concealed any stolen property or property obtained by robbery, and that the person knew or had a reason to know that the property was stolen or obtained by a robbery.
Maximum Penalties for receiving stolen property range from a misdemeanor: 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine to a felony: 20 years and payment of a $100,000 fine. The sentence for receiving stolen property follows the sentencing under the theft statute and depends upon several issues, including:
· the amount of the stolen goods;
· the type of stolen goods (i.e., firearms and motor vehicles vs. other goods);
· whether the person charged has been convicted of this crime, or one of the similar enumerated crimes, in the past five years.
A charge of receiving stolen property can result in incarceration, heavy fines and a blemish on one’s criminal record that can result in losing employment or being unable to find employment or housing.