September 9, 2013

Businesses oppose online filing of purchases

Peru police say new ordinance would help solve thefts, burglaries.

by Carson Gerber For the Pharos-Tribune

---- — PERU — The Peru City Council tabled an ordinance requiring pawnshops, secondhand stores, jewelry shops and metals dealers to enter every purchase into an online database after local shop owners complained the new requirement would be too costly.

The proposed ordinance requires businesses to record each transaction and details of every purchased item, along with the name, date of birth and address of the seller, and submit it to an online program.

The ordinance would also require dealers to hold items for at least 24 hours at the business after purchase. Violation of the ordinance would result in a fine up to $500.

Council members heard nearly 90 minutes of testimony Tuesday from business owners, who said the ordinance would place an unnecessary burden on their stores and create hundreds of hours of extra work every year.

Kelly Habayeb, owner of Secondary Metal Processing, 116 E. 9th St., said submitting every purchase online wasn’t feasible for his scrap metal company.

“We’re a small business,” he said. “We’re not Microsoft or IBM. We don’t have the resources that these businesses have. We have five people in our office, and believe me, we’re not overstaffed.”

He said his company already keeps detailed written records of people selling scrap, including photos and personal information, and the new system would be redundant.

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.

The online program, however, requires more detailed descriptions of each purchased item.

Stacy Mize, who works at the secondhand store No Pawn, 9 W. 2nd St., said those extra submission requirements could require up to 24 hours of extra work a week.

“The cost of the equipment and labor is a huge burden to all us business owners, from what I’ve seen,” she said, noting her secondhand store would have to buy a computer and internet service to fulfill the new requirements.

But 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.

“As police officers, what makes us good at our jobs is attention to detail,” said Detective Jason Mooney. “We don’t leave any stone unturned, and when we do leave a stone unturned, crimes go unsolved.”

He said last year police received over 450 reports of thefts and over 150 reports of burglaries.

“All we’re asking for is an amendment to an ordinance that would be a tool to the Peru Police Department to help solve these crimes in order to return property and valued items back to the citizens of Peru,” Mooney said. “And we need help doing that.”

Councilman Steve Gough said businesses already have the burden to provide purchase information to police, and the new ordinance brings that requirement into the 21st century.

“Electronic filing isn’t going away,” he said. “We’re trying to move out of the dark ages and into the digital age. That’s just the way it is, and we’re going to have get there.”

Council tabled the ordinance for more time to talk to business owners and research the issue. Council said they also wanted certain language changed that they said was vague about what purchased items would have to be filed online.