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Houston Police Department looks to solve jewelry and precious metal thefts with electronic database

New Gold Rules for Houston Buyers & Sellers

By Ned Hibberd

April 1, 2013

Houston is rolling out new rules for buying and selling gold and other precious metals.

In addition to scanning the seller's thumbprint, dealers must also snap photos of both the seller and the merchandise.

The information is to be sent electronically to Leads Online, a database that police can access to search for stolen items.

And dealers must hold the merchandise for 11 days before selling or melting it down.

The new system is intended to discourage thefts, which have risen with the price of gold and silver, according to Investigator Todd Harris with the Houston Police Department's Precious Metals unit.

"The city noticed that jewelry crime had gone up a large amount there for a couple years," said Harris. "And that coincided with the price of precious metals."

Some dealers fear the new regulations will put a crimp in the gold trade.

But Houston Jewelry's Rex Solomon figures if crime doesn't pay, he'll end up with more customers.

"The robberies which have been occurring in people's homes has made a lot of people uncomfortable with owning crafted precious metals," said Solomon.

The Houston ordinance is already in effect but police are giving dealers until May 1 before they begin enforcement.

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