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Officers obtained 100 warrants and summonses for violations related to the improper recording and reporting of pawn items against the owners of Bargain Pawn.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office seized multiple items, including tools, lawn equipment, other merchandise and firearms, from Bargain Pawn in Christiansburg, according to a news release.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
After searching the records of a local pawn shop last week, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office obtained 100 warrants and summonses against the owners for violations related to the improper recording of pawn items.
Officers with the sheriff’s office and Christiansburg police on Wednesday searched the records of Bargain Pawn, located on Radford Street in Christiansburg, according to a news release. The sheriff’s office seized multiple items, including tools, lawn equipment, other merchandise and firearms, according to the release.
The search of Bargain Pawn was the beginning of an effort to police pawnbrokers in Montgomery County, sheriff’s office Capt. Robert New said Tuesday. Bargain Pawn was the first business to be searched, but over the next 12 months, as part of “Operation Pawn,” police will visit all the pawn shops in the county.
There are at least six pawn shops in the county.
New said the operation began after authorities continued to receive information that pawn shops were taking in items without writing tickets, were paying cash under the table or weren’t reporting serial numbers.
He said that pawn shops are often used by drug users as an avenue for selling stolen items because they get quick cash and can then buy drugs.
“Some pawn shops — not all — but some don’t keep good records or intentionally don’t keep records to try to conceal stolen merchandise because they can make a lot of money,” New said. “We want to educate pawn shops. Our primary goal is to tell them what they’re required to report and encourage them to.”
New said Operation Pawn is a two-part process. The sheriff’s office hopes to provide guidance to pawn shops, but it also wants to identify the violators and bring charges, New said.
One of the firearms seized from Bargain Pawn was confirmed to have been stolen out of Fairfax in 1974, according to the release.
Officers obtained the 100 warrants and summonses for violations related to the improper recording and reporting of items against Bargain Pawn owners David A. Strathy, 49, and Youssef A. Melki, 43, both of Christiansburg.
New said the firearm was the only item to be confirmed stolen. The additional items were seized in relation to other investigations and because they fell under the misdemeanor violations with which the owners are charged, New said.
New said pawn shops can provide criminals with a means to sell stolen items because there can be little or no tracking. As part of Virginia code, law enforcement officials are allowed to enter pawn shops and inspect the property and the records to ensure compliance, New said.
The town of Christiansburg is in the process of reviewing Bargain Pawn’s license, according to New. He said he was unsure Tuesday whether the warrants and summonses had been served on Strathy and Melki.
Bargain Pawn was open Tuesday afternoon, but employees declined to comment.
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