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Editorial: Enforcement aid

January 7, 2014

Sharing acquisition information with the Lawrence police doesn't seem like an undue burden to place on local pawnshops and precious metal deals.

Requiring local pawnbrokers and precious metal dealers to report their acquisitions each week doesn't seem like too much to ask, especially if that system results in more closed theft cases and fewer transactions involving stolen property.

The Lawrence City Commission will consider tonight whether to approve an ordinance that would require pawnbrokers and precious metal dealers to upload a record of their transactions each week to a website that would be monitored by Lawrence police. The dealers already are required to maintain records of received property, so sharing those records with police shouldn't be a major inconvenience. The police department will pay for the website subscription. Assuming the dealers already are keeping the required records on the items they acquire, it would be a simple matter to forward those records to police.

A number of local property crime cases already have been solved during a trial period for the system. Knowing that such a system is in place also should deter criminals from trying to sell stolen property — at least to pawnshops and precious metal dealers. Allowing their list of purchases to be checked against police records gives both dealers and customers more confidence that they are not dealing with stolen property.

City officials have tried to smooth the path for this effort by meeting with licensed pawnbrokers and precious metal dealers to explain the ordinance and answer questions. It's understandable that some of those businesses might be resistant to any attempt to add another requirement to their business. However, if the proposed system is as user-friendly as it sounds and will cost the businesses nothing except a few minutes of staff time, the benefits of sharing acquisition information seem to outweigh the inconvenience.


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