Former Topeka Police Chief Ed Klumpp said Kansas law should no longer ignore the reality of burglary or theft victims being compelled to pay pawn brokers or scrap dealers to return stolen property.

In some instances, Klumpp said, the legal owners had no practical recourse other than purchasing stolen goods from businesses found to be in possession of the property. He described exploitation of crime victims by pawn shops or metal dealers as "atrocious."

"So, someone steals my stuff and I have to pay to get it back. How is that right?" said Klumpp, who lobbies for three law enforcement organizations in Kansas. "Of course, the victim can hire an attorney and take the business to court. But, again, how is that right?"

Under Senate Bill 46, modeled after a Missouri law, Kansans attempting to recover stolen property would submit to the pawn or metal business a written demand for return of property and a copy of a police report regarding the stolen items. The dealer or broker would be expected to return the property in the presence of a law enforcement officer within seven days, unless there was a reasonable belief the request was false.

The claimant would be allowed to bring legal action against the business refusing to relinquish purportedly stolen goods, and  businesses could bring legal action against individuals if the property claim was based on allegedly false information.

In addition, the bill would require people selling property to a pawn or scrap dealer to show proof of identification and to sign a statement attesting they were legal owner of the property.

The Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing on the bill, but has not taken action on the measure.

Greg Smith, a former state senator who works for the Johnson County Sheriff's Department, said the bill was introduced to create a consistent procedure for return of stolen property to legal owners.

He said motivation was a theft case in Johnson Coutny involving more than $1 million in property, including a four-carat diamond ring, and discovery of some of the individual's missing items at pawn shops.

"The owner was startled to find that the pawn shops would not return her items to her," Smith said. "Instead, she was told she would have to purchase them if she wanted them. She was victimized again."