The Elgin Police Department has a new plan to aid in the apprehension of those who try to resell stolen merchandise.
City council members will consider a revised ordinance Wednesday that would require pawnbrokers, resale dealers and recyclable metal dealers to log their purchases with the national Leads Online database.
The police department already has paid for access to the database for almost a year now. The latest move will require Elgin businesses to report the products they buy and sell at no extra cost to the business except the time spent inputting data -- unless the store has no computer with Internet access, which is necessary to log the merchandise and would be required by the ordinance.
Lt. Sean Rafferty said the system will help police apprehend criminals and potentially prevent them from using the businesses as places to sell stolen goods.
"We suspect that most businesses are operating legitimately, but the business owners may not know that items are stolen when they accept them in trade or sale," Rafferty said.
Detective Ray Bennett, who has been working on the new initiative for more than a year, said about two dozen businesses would be affected by the new ordinance. Based on the proposal, businesses purchasing "identifiable objects" with serial numbers or unique features must wait 10 days before reselling them. Nonidentifiable items like scrap gold must be held three days, and recycling centers are exempt from the holding requirement.
Bob Conroy, owner of Elgin Recycling, said it would be practically impossible to store the product for 10 days because of the sheer volume of metal his locations process. Conroy said 40,000-pound trailers are loaded and sent out to mills for refining daily with millions of pounds of scrap metal bought and sold every month.
Elgin Recycling already has a software program to track customers and the items bought and sold. Conroy said he has always worked with the police department in theft investigations and will if council members pass the new rules.
"Any more laws are extra work, but I understand why they're doing it," Conroy said. About a dozen Elgin businesses already use Leads Online for their own record-keeping, including Elgin's two pawn shops -- Windy City Jewelry and Loan and Easy Cash Solutions.
Participating business would get a camera from Leads Online to take pictures of the merchandise they are recording.
The proposal will be discussed at the committee of the whole meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers at city hall.