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Did 'Pawn Stars' Shop Melt Down $50K in Stolen Coins?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

The stars of the History Channel's "Pawn Stars" are embroiled in a real-life drama over stolen coins.

A Las Vegas man's niece stole his $50,000 antique coin collection and hocked it to Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, the business featured in "Pawn Stars." Unfortunately for the coins' rightful owner, the pawn shop says it's too late: They've already melted the coins down, ABC News reports.

Did the coin collector just get nickel and dimed by the legal system?

Nevada Pawn-Shop Laws

Knowingly receiving stolen property is a criminal offense. Because the pawn shop industry is rife with stolen hocked goods, many states impose special requirements on pawn shops to prevent them from intentionally or unintentionally receiving stolen property.

In Nevada, pawn shops are highly regulated and must comply with very specific requirements. For example, customers must present identification, and every item sold to a pawn shop must be logged into a database that law enforcement regularly review.

Exception for Coins

Pawnbrokers must also follow specific holding periods. In Nevada, pawnbrokers generally must hold items for 30 to 90 days before disposing of them. The holding period is meant to give lawful owners time to redeem the items and for police to identify stolen goods.

Unfortunately for the coin collector, the Nevada law exempts coins from the holding period requirement. That means if the hocked items are coins that are not considered jewelry, a pawn shop can dispose of them at any time it wants.

Stolen Coin Fiasco: PR Disaster... or Jackpot?

Although the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop is experiencing heightened legal scrutiny, primarily because of its high-profile role in a reality TV show, it seems the store acted within its legal rights when it swiftly melted the antique coins.

Even if its actions were in the legal clear, the negative publicity of melting down and profiting from a stolen collection of antique coins could hurt its business.

But who knows? Considering the nature of the beast that is reality television, it might just make ratings spike and business boom.

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