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Article posted: 4/30/2013 9:31 PM

Glen Ellyn puts regulations on secondhand stores

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Jewelry stores and other retailers in Glen Ellyn that sell secondhand goods are now required to photograph and catalog items they purchase in an effort to help police recover stolen property.

Police pushed for the ordinance, approved unanimously by the village board, that requires businesses to enter information about property they buy, such as jewelry and electronics, into an online database. Stores then have to wait four days before reselling the items while police search the system to see if the property was stolen.

Some business owners affected by the new rules say the regulations are going to be too cumbersome, forcing them to divert resources to enter the items in the database, called LeadsOnline.

Within 12 hours of purchasing an item, retailers are required to enter a description of the item, a serial number if applicable, the purchase price, when the transaction occurred, and the name and address of the person selling it.

They also must provide police with a monthly report of all transactions involving secondhand goods.

Chief Phil Norton said other municipalities that require stores to enter property in the database have had success in recovering stolen items: a GPS that was stolen from a car in Glen Ellyn and sold to a retailer in Hanover Park was returned to its rightful owner and led to the arrest of the burglary suspect; construction tools stolen from a truck and pawned in Stone Park were recovered and also led to a drug arrest; and a computer and antique firearm stolen from a home in Warrenville were recovered using the database, Norton said.

"In some cases we can get the arrest without the recovery, but what interests us in law enforcement is being able to make the victim as whole as possible," Norton said.

The ordinance would affect as many as 10 businesses in town, he said.

Wes Barrow, owner of Larc Jewelers at 479 N. Main St., said the new ordinance will hurt his cash flow due to the required four-day waiting period before resale.

"If I don't have the ability to sell what I've purchased, with the volatile market, it's tying up money I don't have to purchase another transaction," he said. "I'm trying to be competitive and offer somebody a fair market value."

When police proposed the ordinance last fall, it called for a 30-day waiting period -- what police say is the industry standard -- but it was reduced to seven days after officials received negative feedback from business owners.

Trustee Diane McGinley proposed an amendment to the ordinance to make the waiting period four days -- the bare minimum police were willing to accept, Norton said.

Gabe Santa, owner of Gabe's Coins at 485 N. Main St., purchases and resells coins but also has introduced gold, silver and antique watches into his business. He says he buys anywhere from 50 to 70 items a day, which he estimates will take him at least two hours to enter into the online database.

"I can't do that. I'm the only guy there," Santa told village trustees Monday. "I'd have to leave (town) or quit buying gold, and I don't think I could afford to do that either. ... For me, this would be murder. I don't have the staff."

Norton said the new regulations are "the cost of doing business."

"We're not trying to make life difficult for you, but the focus is the victim," Norton said.

In January, the village board tabled an earlier version of the ordinance after hearing from business owners. Police agreed to remove coins and currency from the items required to be entered into the database, and they exempted businesses from paying a $250 license fee to use the system. The first version of the ordinance sought to regulate antique stores and bicycle shops.

Though the ordinance took effect immediately after passage, Deputy Chief Bill Holmer said police will meet with affected business owners to review procedures for using the online database and how to comply with the new rules.

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