GameStop locations in Philadelphia have taken to fingerprinting customers who trade in video games at the behest of local law enforcement.

According to GameSpot, the policy has been in place since July and had been requested by local authorities to help stop crime. A GameStop representative said, "It's a process that we've recently implemented (starting in early July) in Philadelphia area stores at the request of the Philadelphia police department. [It] is a practice we've also put into place in other parts of the U.S., depending on local or statewide second-hand dealer or pawn broker laws. However, at this time we are reviewing the process to determine if it's one which should be continued in Philadelphia."

A local law is said to allow retailers to collect thumbprints, which are then uploaded to a database called LeadsOnline. However, with regard to the city's pawnbroker order, Philadelphia city solicitor Shelley Smith said, "What GameStop does doesn't meet any of the elements of the definition in the code, so the pawnbreaker ordinance doesn't apply to GameStop."

It is the hope of local law enforcement that the uploading of thumbprints will help them catch thieves who treat GameStop like a pawnshop to get rid of their goods. Understandably, the practice is not very popular and has caught the ire of some GameStop customers. According to GameSpot, one shopper said, "I really don't appreciate it. You fingerprinted me like I'm in a police district. No, I'm at a game store." Another shopper said, "I think it's an overreach. It's going too far."

As of this writing, the fingerprinting policy for trade-in transactions is only applicable to stores located inside the city of Philadelphia itself. There's no mention of any locations in Philadelphia's suburbs that have adopted the policy.

The initiative has only been in effect since early July, so it remains to be seen how long the policy will last, given its perceived unpopularity with local customers. We suppose once it's been in place for a while and hard numbers show whether or not the fingerprinting has assisted with catching more criminals, then the policy's fate will ultimately be decided.

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