City Councilman Jack Kelly wants to throw a wrench into the city's brisk market for stolen goods with a new law that would turn pawning and selling silver, gold, and other personal items into a semi-bureaucratic affair.
Kelly yesterday introduced legislation that police say would bring their system into the 21st century, allowing police to track by computer the daily trafficking of precious metals and other personal items.
It would accomplish that by requiring pawnbrokers and precious-metals dealers to create an Internet-accessible tracking system of their daily transactions. Pawnshops are required by state law to provide police with their daily receipts. But each business does it differently, and many use paper receipts, which makes tracking stolen goods a laborious affair.
"On TV it takes four minutes," said Lt. Frank Vanore, Philadelphia police spokesman, as opposed to hours or days for detectives combing through paper receipts. And it could be minutes here, Kelly said, with a single tracking system that allowed police to scan and sort sales by time, type, or location.
"It's a tool our police department can use in solving burglaries," Kelly said. "More important, it's going to be a detriment to anybody who's involved in the buying and selling of stolen property."
The bill would require pawnshops or precious metal dealers to take a digital photo of the customer and a thumbprint. Dominic Verdi, the city's Department of Licenses and Inspection's liaison with the police, said many thieves show up with fake identification, so asking for photo ID alone doesn't stop them.
It would institute a 90-day waiting period on the sale or destruction of any pawned items or precious metal bought, and require the segregation of those items from those that are for sale.
Pawnbrokers and precious metals dealers will have a chance to testify on the bill at a hearing after the first of the year.