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Proposal would require weekly reports to police from pawnbrokers, precious metal dealers

By Sara Shepherd

January 6, 2014

Lawrence pawnbrokers and precious metal dealers will be required to submit records of received property to police each week via a designated website if a proposed ordinance is approved.

The businesses already are required to maintain records of received property, so city staff says complying with the ordinance should not be unduly burdensome.

Business owners who said they are faithful record-keepers agreed.

"It's a way to do business honestly," said Brad Parsons, owner of Marks Jewelers at 817 Massachusetts St. "We would be happy to jump through any hoops, paperwork or whatever to promote honest business."

The first reading of the ordinance is scheduled for Tuesday's City Commission meeting. If adopted, the second reading would be Jan. 14.

The Lawrence Police Department initiated the proposal after a recent test run using a free trial period of actually helped them solve several property crimes, Assistant City Attorney Maria Kaminska said.

"Mandatory routine and online reporting may assist law enforcement recover stolen property or at the very least provide a gateway to solving crimes generally," Kaminska wrote in a memo about the ordinance.

Other area cities using LeadsOnline include Olathe, Kansas City, Overland Park and Lenexa, according to the memo.

Under the proposed ordinance, police would pay the estimated $9,600 annual subscription to the website. Pawnbrokers and precious metal dealers would be given passwords to upload data to the site on or before Tuesday of each week.

The newly proposed ordinance includes a penalty for failure to comply — a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and imprisonment of up to six months.

Parsons said Marks Jewelers has kept records of purchases for decades, and he believes it deters people from bringing in stolen goods.

"Anybody that's doing it the wrong way, they pretty much don't come here," he said. "The bad guys find other places."

Jeff Neal, operating partner of Sunflower Pawn and Jewelry, 2429 Iowa St., also supports the proposal.

Sunflower records items bought and loans written at the end of every shift, Neal said. He said providing such information to police helps deter criminals and helps customers make purchases with confidence.

"Pawn shops have changed, and they've become very tech-savvy," Neal said. "They have to be in order to keep up with the changing of demands and the changing of trends."

Representatives at Jayhawk Pawn and Jewelry, 1804 W. Sixth St., and Lawrence Pawn and Jewelry, 944 E. 23rd St., declined to comment for this story.

The city sent letters to all of Lawrence's licensed pawnbrokers and precious metal dealers notifying them of the proposed ordinance and Tuesday's hearing, Kaminska said. She said the city met with each business that replied to answer questions and hear concerns, and that some business owners would probably attend Tuesday's meeting.


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