By TRAVIS HANDY
CHRISTIANSBURG—Authorities obtained 100 warrants or summonses for alleged improper records keeping and reporting at a Christiansburg pawnshop last week, leading officers to seize a number of items connected to an investigation referred to as “Operation Pawn.”
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Division of Criminal Investigations, along with Christiansburg Police Department, conducted a search of records at Bargain Pawn, off Radford Road in Christiansburg, April 17. During the search violations were noted, leading to seizure of multiple items including tools, lawn equipment, firearms and other merchandise. According to law enforcement, one of the firearms seized was confirmed stolen out of Fairfax in 1974.
The warrants and summonses were obtained against the owners of Bargain Pawn, identified as David A. Strathy, 49, and Youssef A. Melki, 43, both of Christiansburg. They are charged with failure to properly document items taken in on pawn.
Captain Robert New of Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release that “the issue of drugs in Montgomery County and the New River Valley has grown tremendously over the past few years. Accordingly, the theft of property has also risen. When criminals have a way to sell stolen items with little or no tracking, both of these crimes tend to grow.”
New pointed out that most pawnshops follow the rules, but occasionally some do not.
“Operation Pawn is an ongoing cooperative effort, policing the pawn brokers in Montgomery County to insure compliance,” stated New. “It’s a two-part process. One is providing guidance to the pawn shops, helping them understand the requirements and comply with state and local laws. The other is to identify the violators and develop those cases for prosecution in Montgomery County.”
Virginia law currently states that pawnshops must see government-issued identification from sellers, and give the police a daily report of each seller’s name, address and other information from their ID card, but the law will soon become stricter and require additional record-keeping measures by pawnbrokers.
A new law passed by Virginia legislature states that in addition to these measures, the ID must have a photo of the seller, and pawnbrokers must keep a digital image of the seller’s ID. Additionally, pawnbrokers will not be allowed to receive or resell goods that have had their original serial numbers altered or changed. Violating this law, which goes into effect July 1, will be considered a Class 4 misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $250 fine.