October 10, 2013

Peru pawnshops must report purchases online

Council approves measure after over an hour of debate.

By Carson Gerber For the Pharos-Tribune

---- — PERU — Pawnshops, secondhand stores, jewelry shops and metals dealers must now enter every purchase into an online database police can use to track stolen items after the city council approved the new measure Monday.

The council had considered the ordinance for two months, but tabled it last month after local shop owners complained the new requirement would be too costly and force them to report the personal information of their customers.

A handful of local business owners showed up at Monday’s meeting to applaud and criticize the new requirement, which stipulates businesses must record each transaction and details of every purchased item, along with the name, date of birth, address and other information of the seller, and submit it to an online program called LeadsOnline.

That was a problem for George Mize, owner of No Pawn, 9 W. 2nd St, and a vocal opponent of the ordinance since it was first introduced in August. He said he collected 170 signatures of residents who were against the measure.

“We’re not opposed to law and order or solving crimes or anything like that,” Mize said. “ … But this requires me to take hundreds and hundreds of people’s private information and put in on a database that has no liability.”

Police defended the ordinance, arguing requiring online submission and detailed descriptions of purchases would help them retrieve stolen items more quickly and track down thieves.

Detective Jason Mooney said police received more than 450 reports of theft and over 150 reports of burglaries last year and the online database would help solve these cases.

“It’s usually a needle-in-a-hay-stack situation, and the cases go unsolved,” he said. “ … This program helps us actively deter crime and gives officers a means to begin an investigation.”

Randy Harrell, owner of Bargains Just Off Broadway, 19 W. 2nd St., said he’s already enrolled in LeadsOnline. He said he didn’t have a problem with the program.

“It was a little intimidating the first few times we used it,” Harrell said. “But all new things are. All and all, each transaction takes two or three minutes. It really isn’t any more than what we were doing before.”

Since 1917, the city has required pawnshops and secondhand stores to keep written records of each purchase and submit it to the police department every day.

“In my heart, I know this ordinance isn’t going to hurt businesses,” said Peru Mayor Jim Walker. “This is going to be a better tool to get stolen items back to their owner.”

After more than an hour of discussion, the council voted to approve the ordinance 5-2. District 4 Councilwoman Cheryl Lee and District 5 Councilman Terry Alley voted against the measure.