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Pawn shop ordinance gives police more time to track stolen goods

By Martin Slagter

June 24, 2014

Local secondhand shops will now have to keep new purchases for 10 days before putting them out for sale, giving police more time to track stolen goods.

The Kokomo Common Council amended the ordinance Monday for pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers in the city in an effort to comply with updates to state laws. Previously, Kokomo's ordinance required that items be retained for 24 hours.

The changes are meant to give police more time to investigate and discover stolen goods that are sold at pawn shops or other secondhand stores.

All goods or articles sold at any licensed pawnbroker, secondhand dealer, precious metals or stone dealer must now be retained at their place of business for 10 days after the transaction has been electronically transmitted to the Kokomo Police Department before they can be sold.

Local law enforcement uses online databases like Leads Online, which tracks pawn shop purchases with important and pertinent information in real-time, to find goods that have been stolen.

Kokomo Common Council member Kevin Summers said the state's switch from a five- to 10-day waiting period will allow those who have had items stolen more time to report the theft.

"There's no real magic number, but 10 days gives you a full couple of weeks. If you've been on vacation and your house gets broken into, there are a couple of days to handle that," he said.

In addition to a longer waiting period, a clear photograph of each article, capturing characteristics like serial numbers, names, letters, special features or other unique identifying marks, must be preserved electronically through a computer data system as stipulated by the Kokomo Police Department.

Cash Loan & Security Inc. co-manager Deb Hickey said her business at 501 S. Reed Road has not taken photos with incoming merchandise in the past, so there will be a learning curve of sorts with the changes.

"We'll have to figure out how to do that, because we're currently not required to [take photos]," she said. "Leads Online is a wonderful program, so I hope this will maybe slow some [thefts] down. If we have suspicion that might be the case now, we try to weed them out, but we can't get everything."

Hickey said Cash Loan & Security typically uploads all of its inventory from customers to Leads Online at the end of each business day, so it typically took two days for the item to become available for resale.

"I don't see how it will make things much different," Hickey said. "Customers are mad that they even have to wait a day, but they still do it."

If law enforcement finds an article has been entered incorrectly into the data system, the store will have 24 hours to correct the mistake after notification and must hold the item for 10 additional days.

Any stolen item located by law enforcement in a pawn shop, secondhand dealer or precious metals dealer is subject to confiscation by police. Businesses are subject to a fine up to $2,500 for any violation of the ordinance.

World Wide Jewelry and Pawn manager Samantha Black, who operates one of the store's two locations in Kokomo on North Washington Street, said the changes will have a minimal impact on business because the store has already undertaken many of the new measures.

As part of a corporate chain, World Wide Jewelry and Pawn already had a seven-day waiting period in place before changing to 14 days recently.

Like Cash Loan & Security, World Wide Jewelry and Pawn will have to begin taking and uploading photos online, which could result in some space issues on the computer, she said.

The overall impact, though, should be minimal, Black noted.

"Basically they're doing things to update the city ordinance with things that a lot of people are already doing," she said. "People know how we function here already, so it won't be very different for the customer."

Martin Slagter can be reached at 765-454-8570, martin.slagter@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @slagterm.

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