Gary police chief pitches pawn ordinance to curb thieves
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent October 10, 2012 10:12PM
Updated: November 12, 2012 12:12PM
GARY — Pawning and reselling metal in the city is set to become a lot harder for thieves and people who don’t know the origin of their merchandise.
Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram’s version of an ordinance that will regulate pawn shops, “Cash for Gold” businesses and scrap-metal facilities requires those entities to download the software of Web site LeadsOnline, Ingram told the Finance Committee at its Wednesday night meeting. The software is free-of-charge for business owners.
Existing law requires customers to provide a valid drivers license or state ID and leave a thumbprint as well as contact information. Business owners are required to record the date of sale, description and serial numbers along with taking the pictures of the merchandise brought to them
Under the new ordinance, shop employees would be required to load the information to the Web site, said Sgt. Brian Farrow. That way, when a victim of theft comes to the department, the police will be able to log on to LeadsOnline and see if the item has been pawned and by whom.
The department used the free trial of the LeadsOnline software over the summer and increased the arrest number of people using pawn shops to unload stolen merchandise by eight over a two-month period, said Detective Pete Baum. And stores that don’t comply face a two-strike policy.
“If a store owner can’t prove where (the merchandise) came from, we’ll secure it and issue a $1,500 fine,” Baum said. “The second violation, they lose their business license.”
Ingram added that unclaimed merchandise and scrap metal they secure will be exchanged after 90 days and the money will go into a nonreverting fund to support a burglary task force the department is creating.
The city has logged 1,294 burglaries from January until now, Ingram said, down from 1,848 during the same period in 2011. Overall for 2011, the department logged 2,618 burglaries. He credited having officers patroling high-burglary areas for 30 minutes per shift among the reasons for the decrease.
The Common Council will consider the ordinance at its 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday.