Courts & Crime

Florida family presses for pawnshop legislation

MANATEE -- In the days after he found his wife Kathleen bludgeoned to death in their Terra Ceia home, it was not foremost in Dr. James Briles’ mind to drive to local pawn shops to look for her jewelry and other items that were stolen.

Out of $40,000 in property taken, the Briles family ended up recovering one necklace.

After visiting hundreds of pawn shops after the initial shock of the murder, the Briles family discovered an industry, they say, has an antiquated paper system for recording transactions.

The family believes that if Florida pawnbrokers had to take pictures of every item they take in and everyone who does business with them, it might get some criminals off the streets faster and it would be easier for victims to identify their possessions.

The family’s effort, known as Kathleen’s Cause, has led to a pair of bills in the Florida House and Senate that would amend Florida Statutes 538 and 539 to include digital photographs of items pledged or sold and of the pledger or seller.

Senate Bill 1662 and House Bill 1323 also would establish a statewide electronic database for keeping all the transaction information.

“We are not after the pawn industry,” the 58-year-old doctor said Monday. “We are after the bad guys. With this type of electronic system it will be easier to track bad guys.”

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