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City implements electronic reporting requirements for secondhand goods sales

By Sean Delaney

February 27, 2013

Under the proposed new ordinance, secondhand merchants in Sterling Heights - including pawnshops, pawnbrokers, flea market dealers, junk dealers, automobile wrecking yards, nonferrous metal dealers, jewelers, jewelry exchange participants, precious metal and gem dealers, video game retailers, electronics stores, toy stores and video stores that transact in secondhand goods - must register with the city clerk, pay a yearly $100 application fee and be issued an annual certificate of registration. The fee will cover city costs for processing the registration, and the registration will enable Sterling Heights to create a database of secondhand goods merchants.

"There are additional requirements, which require that digital photographs be taken of all jewelry, precious metal, gems or any property that does not have a serial number of product name with make and model," Berg said.

If the ordinance is adopted by the City Council on March 5, ordinance violations call for a municipal civil infraction, with a second offense rising to misdemeanor status, and a third offense within seven years resulting in revocation of the registration and cessation of any secondhand transactions for one year, with a process for being reinstated thereafter.

Berg explained that offenses could include failing to register; failing to electronically report transactions; failing to properly identify transactions; failing to photograph nondescript items such as jewelry and metal; transacting with someone younger than age 18; transacting between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.; and transacting with a suspected thief.

"It is believed the implementation of this ordinance will be one of the best tools to come along for law enforcement in a long time," Berg said. "It will provide us with the ability to solve many crimes and ultimately make many more arrests of the people who victimize our residents."

According to Berg, the cost for implementing the Leads Online service in Sterling Heights will be paid for with drug forfeiture funds, with no cost to the city's general fund.

For more information, call the Sterling Heights Police Department at 446-2800.


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