Naperville leaders concerned about burglaries and stolen jewelry may join other communities by requiring pawn shops to post online pictures of every piece of jewelry they buy and sell.
The city council is reviewing an update to the ordinance that regulates pawnshops and "secondhand dealers." It would require pawnshops and cash-for-gold stores to enter pictures and descriptions of jewelry, precious metals and gemstones and their sellers them into a searchable database such as LeadsOnline.
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The update proposed by Police Chief Robert Marshall and Kristen Foley, senior assistant city attorney, would apply to all pawn brokers in Naperville, but only to secondhand dealers whose primary business is selling used jewelry or precious metals like gold.
But a pawnshop owner last week recommended expansion of the businesses covered under the ordinance, and city staff members said they will take another look at the proposed regulations.
Thomas Brunzelle, co-owner of Naperville Jewelry & Loan at 605 E. Ogden Ave. said he thinks antique stores and other secondhand shops that buy and sell gold or used jewelry also should be required to post transactions on the online database.
"In our heavily regulated business, we don't want others to be exempt from a law helping catch criminals," Brunzelle said.
Requiring shops to record each jewelry transaction could help police solve crimes, identify offenders, recover stolen jewelry and return it to their owners, Marshall said in a memo.
Aurora, Buffalo Grove, Mundelein, Oak Brook, Vernon Hills and Wheeling are among towns requiring the recording of transactions at secondhand shops. Police say a regional approach to tracking stolen goods is the most effective.
Police in Naperville investigated 226 burglaries and 1,304 thefts last year, including many in which jewelry was stolen, Marshall said.
After several burglaries centered in the southeast portion of Naperville last summer and early fall, council member Steve Chirico said a resident whose jewelry was stolen contacted him to see if the city could create any regulations to help solve or prevent such crimes.
The updated ordinance originally was scheduled for a vote last week, but Chirico said he was fine with having staff members research it more to consider regulating a wider range of businesses. It now could be voted on during the council's next meeting June 3.
"We still have the tools we need to pursue and prosecute criminals who are using these shops in a way they're not meant to be used for," Chirico said.
Brunzelle said he agrees with the goal of the updated regulation -- recording photos of items and sellers can help cut down on improper sales.
"We feel this ordinance is definitely a useful tool in helping law enforcement identify possible stolen goods," he said. "The end goal for all of us is to avoid the crime-ridden type of resale that a lot of businesses are looking at."