A secondhand dealer is any person whose business includes buying, selling, taking in trade, taking in pawn, taking on consignment, accepting for auction or auctioning secondhand tangible personal property. Persons doing business involving coins may also fall into licensing or reporting laws Business & Professions Code (B&P) 21626 & 21641.

A pawnbroker is anyone engaged in the business of receiving goods in pledge as security for a loan Financial Code (FC) 21000.

If a business is involved in any activities mentioned above, State Law requires that business to be licensed as a State secondhand dealer or pawnbroker. B&P Code 21626 & FC 21300.  A Pawnbroker is also a secondhand dealer, but a secondhand dealer is not a pawnbroker.

What is tangible personal property? Tangible personal property is any property bearing a serial number, personalized initials, or inscription or which, bears evidence at time acquired have evidence of the above. It may also be property that appears on the State Attorney General’s list of property which is commonly sold by secondhand dealers such as: jewelry, sterling silver, etc. Contact the Police Department if you’re unsure of an items classification.

What’s the purpose of this law? The intent of the law is to provide law enforcement agencies with a means to curtail the dissemination of stolen property and to facilitate its recovery by means of a uniform statewide, state administered secondhand dealer licensing and reporting program.

How does this protect me? First, it protects you by knowing this process makes it difficult for a thief to unlawfully attempt to sell stolen goods. Around half of all burglaries are committed by juveniles. The law prohibits any purchases involving a minor.

Secondly, because there is a background check to assure the applicant has not had any criminal associations, the law filters out criminal business ownerships in community.

Lastly, you and the community will have a sense of assurance and confidence that the items sold at your business have been acquired legally. 

So how do I get licensed and where do I start? You will have to use a computer to get started, but apply for a license, and conduct business as a Pawn or Secondhand Dealer. Start by accessing the State of California Department of Justice's website for Secondhand Dealer and Pawnbrokers by clicking HERE

This will introduce you to the State Attorney General's website and the licensing unit. If you wish to proceed directly to the California Pawn and Secondhand Dealer System (CAPSS), please click HERE.

If you have additional questions, please call the police department or email Captain Jeff Bell with your questions.