Springfield May Stiffen Rules, Boost Fees for Pawnbrokers

The Springfield City Council is weighing whether to strengthen regulations covering pawn shops. If passed, the city would have some of the highest licensing fees and strictest rules for pawnbrokers in the Northeast.

Any items brought to a pawn shop in Springfield right now must be held for ten days before they can be sold. This is done to make sure the goods are not stolen. Police say ten days isn’t enough to complete robbery investigations and they need thirty days, which used to be the case.

“It was changed two years ago,” said City Councilor Thomas Ashe, who heads the committee considering the proposal. “And it didn’t at that time didn’t have much public input. There wasn’t an awareness that this would be hurting the police department as much as it has.”

While some cities such as Hartford and Albany have a ten-day waiting period, a change to a month would bring Springfield in line with Boston.

Another part of the proposal is hiking fees for a license to operate a pawn shop. Right now, Springfield charges $100, which is similar to many places such as Worcester and Hartford. Ashe said the city is considering an increase to between $500 and $1,000.

“And the thought behind raising the fees in general would have more legitimate businesses being open rather than – as the police term – ‘fly-by-night’ operations,” Ashe said.

Ashe said he expects to present a proposal to the City Council in early August.

Meanwhile, there are some pawnbrokers who say a longer waiting period would make it difficult for them to do business. Joe Greenberg, who operates World Pawn in Springfield, said gold prices can change drastically in a month, and because of this, his shop and others would be forced to take a higher risk when purchasing precious metals.