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October 24, 2013

N.H. House panel wants study of pawn regulation

CONCORD — A New Hampshire House panel wants a commission to review regulation of pawnbrokers, antique dealers and cash-for-gold dealers.

The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee is recommending the commission include business representatives and study ways to better protect theft victims.

Chairman Ed Butler, D-Hart’s Location, said the committee, meeting this week, concluded the issue is too complicated to take action now, needs more review and should first hear from affected businesses.

“It’s just too complex,” Butler said. “We don’t want to impact business in a negative way.”

Rep. David Huot, D-Laconia, sponsored House Bill 343 that called for tightening regulations on businesses the committee ended up studying this fall.

Huot, speaking prior to the committee vote, acknowledged his bill needed more work and would go along with the panel’s wishes.

“I’d like to have this lead to a situation where police have an easier time tracing items that are stolen,” Huot said.

Huot stressed he’s not trying to hurt businesses.

“The focus of the bill is not punative in nature, it’s regulatory,” he said.

Huot said he introduced the bill in response to a case in Gilford where stolen goods were gone to the smelter within hours of a theft. He would penalize those businesses that don’t cooperate with police in trying to stop personal property losses.

“The problem involves jewelry and electronics stolen in burglaries and rapidly disposed of,” Huot said.

He aims to increase transparency for transactions so police can determine who sold property to a shop.

“Many dealers are first-class operators,” Huot said.

They photograph individuals and keep detailed records, he said.

“But, as in any field, there are marginal operators who just like to make money,” he said. “I do think they are very much in the minority.”

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