Cape Council to mull pawn rule changes

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cape Girardeau's city council will give new rules on pawnshop and resale operations a first consideration at Monday night's meeting.

Scheduled for the 7 p.m. meeting is the first reading of an ordinance that has already undergone changes per the request of some local business owners after being tabled by the council last month.

Three business owners, Mike Sprouse of River City Coins, Jim Maevers of Pastimes Antiques and Jay and Linda Crosnoe of Crosnoe Gold & Silver, met with city staff last month to request changes to the ordinance. The ordinance would have required their businesses, along with pawnshops, to adopt an online database called Leads Online. The system is used by the Cape Girardeau Police Department to recover items that are stolen and resold; and to apprehend thieves. Stores would also have to keep records of all sellers' physical descriptions along with their driver's license number and photographs of items. Those who don't comply can lose their business licenses.

The parties' requests for changes resulted in certain types of businesses becoming exempt from the potential rules -- the ordinance now would apply to pawnbrokers and other types of recyclers, second-hand dealers and junk/scrap dealers, but not to jewelry stores, antique stores, coin stores, second-hand clothing stores, gun and knife shows and auction or asset-liquidation services selling the contents of an estate -- as long as those businesses had a business license before Monday.

"It's discrimination is what it is," said Daniel Wilson, who owns Money Time Pawn at 2112 Broadway in Cape Girardeau, along with his mother and father.

Sprouse, on the other hand, said he is very happy with the changes, but said there is some unfairness involved for pawnshop owners. Still he said, the burden on businesses that deal with numerous small items -- those he believes less likely to be stolen -- such as antique stores, would have a lot on their hands if they were required to inventory for the police all the information that would be required by the ordinance. Additionally, in his store, Sprouse said he is familiar enough with customers and the resale process to be able to identify attempts at the sale of stolen goods.

"I have the same people I've had for years, and most of what they bring me are things I've sold them at one time," he said, "or they are known collectors. I catch six or seven trying to get by me about every year and I know that's it."

City employees approached all of the 30 local businesses that would be affected by the new rules to explain requirements. The city has said all that will be needed to use the system is a working computer and Internet service; and that recording information is quick and easy. Interim police chief Roger Fields has said Leads Online is the most effective tool he has seen to help solve cases involving the theft and resale of goods -- an issue the department has dealt with for many years in high numbers.

Wilson said he remains worried about the time and money he could spend if the ordinance passes.

"Well, we are all paper and ink. It's going to take us a whole retrofit. It will be a giant cost to me for that, as well as having to hire more people just to do this. I'm so busy with my daily tasks now I can't get them all down. Now they are going to add more tasks to me? It's just us doing the police's job when they are already paid to do their job. It's amazing. No one wants to make my job easier," he said.

Patrolman Joey Hann, who has been working with business owners on the ordinance, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Sprouse and Maevers told city staff they would participate in using the system as needed, even though they wouldn't be required to under the ordinance.

Other business

During the 5 p.m. study session, the council will discuss a proposed ordinance that would bar anyone younger than 21 from being in a restaurant or bar that has 35 percent or more annual gross sales from alcohol past 10 p.m. without a parent or legal guardian. The council has made several changes to the ordinance's original language so that employees would not be affected if the ordinance is eventually passed.

An online survey conducted by the city last week asked residents to share their opinions on alcohol sales and age and what they would include in the proposed ordinance. The results of the survey may be presented to council members during the 5 p.m. study session to be used as part of discussions, according to the city's public information office.

The second and third reading of an ordinance that would require scooter operators to wear helmets, purchase insurance and follow other safety rules is included in the council's consent agenda, meaning if a majority of council members approve all items on the consent list that the ordinance could take effect Nov. 16.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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