Earlier today, Historic City News was notified that investigators began what may turn into a two-day inventory of all property located at E-Z Money Pawn Shop Inc on US-1 South of St Augustine.
The pawn broker, Ben Ellis of Lake City, has been under investigation while detectives accumulated sufficient evidence to obtain the search warrant that was executed today.
The St Johns County Sheriff’s Office dispatched a mobile command center to the premises, along with marked patrol vehicles and a gaggle of officers who are poring over every piece of the shop’s inventory; removing it to the parking area to be cataloged and checked for identifying marks and serial numbers to be compared against records of reported stolen property.
No arrests have been made at this time pending the outcome of the property search. In Florida, pawn brokers are required to keep records of every transaction; whether a loan, where the stated intention of the borrower is to redeem the collateral property at some date in the future, or if purchased as second-hand merchandise for resale.
Periodically, St Johns County pawn brokers provide law enforcement with a list of serial numbers on merchandise taken in pawn or purchased off the street during the reporting period.
There is a lot of manual effort required to track pawn broker property, and the system is not perfect. An audit of this scale made pursuant to a search warrant, however, is not in the ordinary course of business. If any of the merchandise inspected in this raid can be verified as stolen, the pawn broker is in jeopardy of losing his entire investment. State law provides that the property is to be returned to the proper owner.
Historic City News will provide details concerning the discoveries made at the business and any arrests that follow as the results of the search warrant are released by authorities.