How Pawn Shops Avoid Stolen Items

The idea that stolen items end up in pawn shops simply isn’t true anymore. Extensive reporting requirements for every item that comes in is a huge deterrent for thieves. At Empire Loan, everything we receive is meticulously described, photographed and transmitted to a police database. Learn more.

3 Options for Your Broken Jewelry

Broken jewelry – everybody has some, but nobody wants to just throw it away. What can you do with your broken or damaged gold, diamond and silver jewelry? Empire Loan has 3 options you can do with those broken items that have just been sitting in the bottom of your dresser drawer.

  1. Sell it! Broken, damaged or simply stray pieces of old gold and diamond jewelry can be turned into instant cash. Remember the earring that you lost the match to? It’s gone forever. How about the chain or bracelet that got crushed when you were doing yardwork? Of course, there’s also the ring that was mangled by the kitchen garbage disposal. If it’s gold, platinum or silver, Empire Loan will buy it, as is, for cash. Simply bring it in and the Empire Loan experts will test it, weigh it and pay you cash on the spot….no matter what condition it’s in.
  2. Get a short-term loan! Any gold, platinum or diamond jewelry you have, regardless of the condition, may get you a cash loan. If you want to keep that broken ring your great-grandmother handed down to you, Empire Loan will lend you cash based on the value of the gold and diamonds in the ring. Empire Loan holds it safely and securely in their vaults until you repay the loan and take back your valuables. It’s that easy. You never have to sell your precious mementos, they still belong to you. Empire Loan simply lends you money based on the value of the item. It doesn’t matter what condition it is in, so long as it’s gold or platinum. Silver trades for under $20 an ounce so most silver jewelry may not have enough value for a loan, regardless of what you may have paid for it. Grandma’s silver tea set though could weigh enough that you could get a loan from just a few dollars, on up to thousands, depending on the weight.
  3. Fix it! We live in a disposable society. When things wear down or break, we just throw it away and get a new one. Part of the problem is finding somebody who has the ability to fix things properly, particularly with gold and diamond jewelry. It takes a true craftsman to be able to repair a broken chain or pair of earrings. Empire Loan has goldsmiths available to bring your broken jewelry back to life. Even if you’ve just outgrown your ring, Empire Loan’s expert craftsmen can re-size it to fit the way it’s supposed to. We can fix that broken chain, pendant or ring the way it’s supposed to be and it’s like you have bought a new piece of jewelry. Not sure if what you have can be repaired? Bring it into any Empire Loan location and we’ll give you a free assessment and honest appraisal as to whether it can be repaired or not and how much it may cost. Then it’s up to you. Bring your broken jewelry in and see if Empire Loan can make it new again!

There is one other option: just let that broken jewelry sit in the bottom of your drawer collecting dust. But why do that when the other options are so much better!

5 Myths About Pawn Shops: Debunked!

Pawn shops have gotten a bad rap in the past. Negatively portrayed in the movies, pawn shops are associated with seedy-looking characters and dark and dirty storefronts.

Well, the times have changed! Pawn shops are prominently featured in TV shows as great spots for bargains and the perfect place to get short-term loans that aren’t available from banks or traditional lenders. Modern day pawn shops are clean, well-lit businesses that serve consumers from all walks of life.

Time to correct some of these misconceptions:

  1. Pawn shops charge high interest rates: Pawn shop interest rates are determined by the state, city or municipality that the pawn shop is located in. Pawn shops in the Boston area are set at 3% monthly while Providence pawn rates are set at 5% monthly. Compare these rates with those in New Hampshire with a monthly interest rate of 20% per month. A smart consumer will find out the interest before taking a loan.
  2. You have to make monthly payments: In Rhode Island it is for 3 months and in Massachusetts a pawn loan is for 4 months. This means you do NOT have to make monthly payments. Simply pay the fees and interest that have accrued by the end of the loan period and you can renew your loan for another 3 or 4 months depending on the locatoin of the original transaction. It’s important to know how long the loan is for since some communities may have loan terms that could even be weekly.
  3. Pawn Shops buy stolen merchandise: Never! Pawn shops report every transaction they make to local law enforcement and then hold onto the item for a specific period of time, giving police the chance to investigate if the items were the result of a crime. Pawn shops are generally required to require government issued ID’s, take photos of the items and the person who brought them in and to provide these photos to police if asked. This makes it easier for police to recover stolen items and prosecute the criminals. Pawn shops do their part to NOT take stolen items.
  4. Pawn Shops try to cheat people, offering below market value: The value of certain items goes up while others go down. A reputable pawn shop would be happy to explain how they came up with their offer. Gold & diamond jewelry is generally valued on the scrap value of the gold and a percentage of the wholesale value of any diamonds, not what you may have paid for the item at retail. Because the price of gold goes up and down with the market, the amount you may be offered on a buy or a loan may change by the minute. With miscellaneous items like electronics, the value falls the minute you open the box and because technology keeps changing, the 2-year-old TV, laptop or digital camera you have may even be obsolete by now. Most pawn shops search websites to determine the used resale selling price of an item and offer a percentage of that. This means the TV that you paid over $1,000 for may only be worth a $100 loan. Don’t be afraid to ask how they came up with their offer and to shop around for the best offer you can get.
  5. Pawn shops are dark, dingy and scary places: Empire Loan, with 8 locations has worked hard over the past 30+ years to create well-lit and welcoming stores that customers feel comfortable in. We take pride in making sure the items we put out on display are clean and in good working order. The stores feature beautiful jewelry cases with only the best in gold, platinum and diamond jewelry at prices that are a fraction of typical jewelry stores. Empire Loan employees are expected to be neatly dressed, polite and professional with all customers who they come in contact with. Seeing is believing, stop in and see it for yourself. (or peek below)

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If you’ve been the victim of a theft, here’s what to do

Pawn Shops are regulated by local, state and federal laws pertaining to loans, purchases and privacy issues. People often think when their property is stolen they simply go to a pawn shop and see if their merchandise is on display there, but it’s really not that simple. Here’s a description of the process and what you should do if your merchandise is stolen.

First, understand that Pawnbrokers and other second hand dealers are generally required to report all transactions they make to local police or authorities. In addition to pawn shops, jewelers and consignment shops that buy gold and silver jewelry and other items are all required to maintain records of transactions and report them to local authorities on a regular basis. This often includes providing pictures and descriptions of all the items they take in, along with a copy of the ID and photos of the person who brought the item in. The pawn shop must then hold the item for a specific period of time, usually a minimum of 30 days, to allow the police time to investigate if the merchandise was part of a crime.

Fairly recently New England law enforcement agencies have centralized this information through NESPIN, New England State Police Information Network, where all six New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) share the information of what has been brought into pawn shops and second hand dealers across the region, allowing local law enforcement the opportunity to search database to see if items brought in were the result of a crime. This database is not available to the public but is accessible to local law enforcement.

As a victim of crime, here’s what you should do:

  1. Call the police. The first step after you discover a theft is to contact the local police where the crime was committed. Police will be able to take the information and conduct an investigation to try and locate your items. They may have knowledge of other crimes in the area and will also be able to review the records kept by other local police departments in surrounding communities to try and locate your items. As mentioned earlier, they can now also review the NESPIN records for all of New England to try and track your merchandise. If they are able to identify any possible items, they will then contact the pawn shop or second hand dealer themselves to verify if they are yours.
  2. If you do find the item, either in police records or on display in a pawn shop or jewelry store, contact the police department where you filed your original report. Only they can request the records of the pawn shop’s transactions. Because of privacy laws, pawn shops are not allowed to give out any information on any customers they have done business with. At Empire Loan, even though we would like to help you recover your merchandise, we are not allowed to tell you how we may have obtained a particular item. Empire Loan will however provide that information to the police or state authorities. Since 1985, Empire Loan has worked effectively with local law enforcement to help people recover their stolen merchandise and we pride ourselves on being cooperative with the authorities.
  3. Contacting local pawn shops directly yourself: Pawn shops do not want to buy or lend money on stolen merchandise. In the end, pawn shops can be the only ones who lose if it turns out they have taken in stolen merchandise. If the merchandise you lost was unique, if you have pictures of it or serial numbers, in the case of electronics, that can help the pawn shop identify the item. Unfortunately it’s not always possible for pawn shops to track details about every item that comes in the door. Empire Loan has 8 stores and does hundreds of transactions in a typical day. This means if you lost a gold wedding band, it would be virtually impossible for us to tell you if somebody came in with one since we could have literally taken in dozens.
  4. Checking in a pawn shops display cases won’t always be very effective. First, as indicated earlier, pawn shops like Empire Loan hold onto merchandise for a minimum of 30 days before doing anything with it. If the item was stolen last week, it would be another 3 weeks before we’d be allowed to sell it. After the 30 days we may melt the item down if it’s gold or silver or sell it online or to a wholesaler if its electronics or a musical instrument. That’s why it’s important to work with the police in trying to locate your items in a timely fashion.
  5. Contact your insurance company. If you have a homeowners policy or renters insurance you may be able to file a claim. While this won’t result in getting your original merchandise back, you may be able to recoup some money to help try and replace the items.

Empire Loan wants to help you recover your merchandise. Hopefully the above information will help you figure out how to do just that. If you have any questions or need any further information, feel free to contact any of Empire Loan’s 8 locations, check our website ( or call us at 800-375-PAWN

Military Lending Act

On Monday October 3rd, 2016, a new law took effect from the Federal Government titled the Military Lending Act that affects Pawnbrokers and other lenders nationwide. Though the law was crafted primarily to control abuses by predatory lenders such as payday lenders and title loan companies. The law requires lenders to offer those on active military duty, their spouses and dependents a capped interest rate of 36% annually.

The purpose of the law was to rein in some of the exorbitant interest rates and fees being charged by these predatory lenders. In certain instances, these lenders charge monthly interest rates of 2O% or more along with other fees and penalties. In addition, many of these types of loans tie into a consumer’s bank account and report to credit rating agencies, resulting in deeper credit problems and spiraling debt for recipients.

Now when a customer comes into any of Empire Loan’s 8 locations they will be asked if they are “active duty military or a spouse or dependent of one”. If they are, Empire Loan will be in full compliance and waive any appraisal fees. Regarding the 3% monthly interest, Most Empire Loan stores were already in compliance due to rates set by the local communities we operate in.

If you are active military or the dependent or spouse of one, Empire Loan wants to thank you for your service and make sure you are getting all the benefits that you are due.

You can read more here:

October Birthstone(s): Opal and Tourmaline

October is a special month with the changing of the seasons and a choice of two birthstones that come in a wide range of colors; opal and tourmaline.


October Tourmaline GemOctober Tourmaline BirthstoneOctober Tourmaline Birth stone

Tourmaline has become very popular in jewelry due to the wide range of colors it can be found in. There is something for every style and taste. Tourmaline is best known for featuring multiple colors in each gemstone, featuring two, three or more colors in a single gemstone and is known for having the widest range of colors of any gem. The more distinct these color differentiations, the more desirable to stone is. Tourmaline colors ranges from black, blue or dark brown through green, red, pink and yellow. One type of tourmaline is referred to as Watermelon Tourmaline for its green and red color variation in a single stone.

Tourmaline is found all over the world including Afghanistan, Brazil, East Africa in even in the US.


Opal BirthstoneOctober Opal GemstoneOctober Opal Birth Stone October Opal GemOctober Opal Birthstone


The other October birthstone is the opal, from the Greek Opallos, meaning “to see a change (of color)”. Opals also show a wide range of colors from a milky white to black with flashes of yellow, red, green and blue. The 3D reflection within opals is one of the stones finest and most notable features.

The GIA describes opal as: Fireworks, Jellyfish, Galaxies, Lightning with a shifting kaleidoscope of colors unlike any other gem. The most often used term is Play-of Color, which speaks to the floating reflections of light and color or fire in the stones. The five main type of opals are:

  • White or light opal with a translucent color or background
  • Black opal which features a dark or black background (rarest)
  • Fire opal which is brown, yellow orange or red in background color
  • Boulder Opal which is translucent to opaque and where the surrounding rock becomes part of the gem
  • Crystal or Water Opal is transparent to semitransparent with a clear background and shows exceptional play of color.

Need a Pawn Shop in Massachusetts or Rhode Island?

Need a Pawn Shop in Massachusetts or Rhode Island? Empire Has You Covered

Over 30 years ago, Empire Loan opened their first store in Boston’s South End. Since then we’ve grown to 8 locations giving customers easy access from just about anywhere. All Empire Locations offer easy parking, access to public transportation and Empire Loan’s history as the most reputable pawn shop in New England.

Empire Loan locations are easy to reach to the south with two locations in Providence, Rhode Island and another one in New Bedford, Massachusetts. These locations have been a part of the community since opening on Broad Street in Providence in 1989 and then in New Bedford in 1994. We’ve even opened another location on North Main St. in Providence in 2006 that included a guitar store that offers a wide range of products and services exclusively for musicians of every talent level.

Customers west of Boston in Worcester have been taking advantage of Empire Loan’s services since 2000 when we opened our store there. Since then the Worcester store has been so successful that we had to move to a larger space at 700 Southbridge Street in the College Square Plaza. With plenty of free parking, residents from surrounding towns like Auburn, Charlton, Millbury, Northborough, Shrewsbury and Southbridge to name just a few, have made Empire Loan their one stop money shop.

In 2011, Empire Loan filled in the south shore area by opening our 6th store on route 138 in Stoughton. This meant residents from Brockton, Canton, Randolph and Milton didn’t have to fight traffic to get into the city of Boston or travel down to the south coast.  This also meant that customers were able to get the fast cash loans they needed without having to go very far.

Empire Loan turned our attention to the north and opened our Lowell store in 2012 at 43 Merrimack Street in downtown Lowell to serve the Merrimack Valley area and southern New Hampshire. Up until then, residents of Pelham, Windham and Nashua, New Hampshire could only visit New Hampshire pawn shops that charged 20% monthly interest for 30 day loans. Empire changed all that by offering the lowest interest rates and the best terms of any pawn shop in Lowell and the Merrimack Valley area.

To help better serve the north shore area of Boston, Empire Loan opened our newest store at 431 Lynnway in Lynn Massachusetts. This gave residents of Revere, Everett, Chelsea, Saugus, Peabody, Salem, Swampscott and Marblehead a convenient place to go when they needed a short term cash loan.

Where will Empire Loan open a new location next? Tough to say, but for now, Empire Loan is the one pawns shop that has New England covered.


March Birthstone: Aquamarine

empire2The birthstone for March is the Aquamarine, a pale blue stone that takes its name from the Latin for “Aqua” meaning water and “Marina” for the sea, literally translating to seawater. The color of the Aquamarine is reminiscent of the coral seas of the Caribbean or Mediterranean and was thought to protect sailors and guarantee a safe voyage. Mined mostly in Brazil, Aquamarine’s greenish blue color and hardness mean that it is an ideal for jewelry making as it can stand up to the heat it takes to create jewelry. The largest Aquamarine ever mined was discovered in 1910 in Brazil and weighed in at 110kg and was 19 inches long and 17 inches in diameter. These beautiful and sophisticated birthstones make formal evening wear extravagant as it reflects the light with its sparkle.


Empire Loan and the World Wide Web

This August marks the 25th anniversary of the worldwide web as we know it. Online shopping, college classes and degrees, recipes, email, movies & music, just about anything you can imagine can be found on the web. Cars are wifi hotspots, medical records are accessible, and how-to videos have changed the world as we know it. In the pawn industry, there have been technological advances that have helped customers and pawnbrokers alike. Empire Loan, a chain of pawn shops in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, has been leading the way.

Empire Loan has created an app called Cash Cam, that allows consumers to take a photo of an item and submit it to Empire Loan to find out what it might be worth.  “In the almost 2 years since we launched Cash Cam we have received hundreds of submissions from people all over the country, although it’s mostly designed for customers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island” Said Michael Goldstein, President of Empire Loan. “The concept was that people who are cleaning out their attic or find something at a yard sale can snap a picture and send it in to see how much they might be able to get for it. People have submitted artwork, antiques, instruments, electronics, just about anything you can think of.  It’s been a big success”

Another technological benefit Empire Loan offers their customer is an online loan center that allows customers to pay their loans from anywhere by logging onto “The Loan Center was created to allow customers to renew their loans or even redeem them without having to come into the store” says Goldstein. “Our customers can’t always get in to the store to pay on their loans because of work, travel or just not having the time. The best feeling is when they call in a panic about not being able to get into the store. We tell them to just log onto the website and they can pay through the web. You can almost hear the relief in their voice. People have paid while they were on vacation, at work, anywhere they happen to be really”.

Pawnbroking may be a centuries old industry, but pawnbrokers like Empire Loan have taken it beyond just New England, and into Cyberspace!


How to Get a Low Cost Pawn Loan

For 30 years, Empire Loan has been offering pawn loans for a fraction of what many of our competitors charge. Even though Massachusetts and Rhode Island pawn loans are regulated, there is a difference. Most importantly, that difference can save you money. Here’s how:

  • Interest Rate: Empire Loan charges the lowest interest allowed by MA or RI law in every city we operate in. Maximum rates are set by the state and local municipalities, and Empire Loan adheres to that in every store we operate in. How do we know we’re the lowest? We have visited our competitors and found some charging as much as 7% per month. That’s almost double what any Empire Loan location charges.
  • Fees: The law allows pawn shops to charge a variety of fees, and many of our competitors charge as much as they can. At Empire Loans 8 locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island we charge an appraisal fee. We have seen competitors charge origination and closing fees, photo fees ticket processing fees. This can sometimes total more than the loan itself. The worst of these are the late fees. One Empire Loan competitors is charging $35 for a late fee. That’s 5X what Empire Loan charges!
  • Educated Customers: Empire Loan believes every customer should understand every part of the transaction: how the process works, how we evaluate your merchandise and valuables, what fees and interest charges are, and what it takes to pay off your loan and get your items back. Empire Loan pawnbrokers review the loan ticket with all new customers and makes s ure to explain everything they need to know. That’s why close to 90% of customers who pawn with Empire Loan get their merchandise back.

If you have ever thought about getting a pawn loan, there is a difference. Feel free to shop around and experience the Empire Loan difference. There is Empire Loan and then there is everybody else.empireloan_617_22_1