Cape City Council OKs pawn ordinance

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Add Cape Girardeau to the growing list of cities requiring pawn shops and some other secondhand dealers to inventory their purchases for tracking by law enforcement agencies.

City council members met little resistance Monday night as they unanimously approved adding a requirement for all pawn shops in the city and, any new businesses that buy and sell secondhand goods, to use a computer system known as Leads Online. The system will document all items sold to those businesses to allow the Cape Girardeau Police Department to check items against a database of stolen goods.

One pawnshop owner, Frank Mabry of Plaza Pawn, approached the council with several questions and criticized the decision of its members to exclude some existing businesses, including antique stores, jewelry stores, coin stores and secondhand clothing shops from having to use the system. Also excluded are gun and knife shows and estate sale and auction services.

In meetings leading up to Monday, several other local business owners also spoke against the proposal. They accused the city of favoritism by excluding some existing businesses from using the system and expressed concerns that too much time would be spent on documentation. They also said that they would need to spend money to buy or upgrade computer equipment. Others, Mabry included, said they felt their current actions to prevent purchasing stolen goods were adequate.

"I'm one who has been going overboard when a lot of people haven't," Mabry said Monday.

The owners of the excluded businesses have, however, said they will use Leads Online on a voluntary basis.

The Cape Girardeau Police Department brought the proposal to the council in September. Interim chief Roger Fields and patrolman Joey Hahn have said they believe the use of Leads Online will help solve theft crimes in the area. There have been a high number and an increase of thefts in recent years. The department spent $4,200 on the system, and city officials have said there will be no costs to businesses required to use it.

The passage of the ordinance by the council means pawn shops, as well as junk/scrap yards, cash-for-gold establishments and other businesses that deal in secondhand goods use the system or face suspension of their city-issued business license. Businesses are also required to record sellers' identifying information and other details of transactions.

Hahn has reported to the council that other cities, including Sikeston, Mo., and Poplar Bluff, Mo., expressed interest in adopting a similar ordinance and purchasing the system after Cape Girardeau's police department is able to show Leads Online is helping solve thefts.

The council's approval for the Leads Online ordinance also changed the city's code to match a state requirement that states no pawn shops can be located within a half- mile of a casino. Councilman Trent Summers did not vote as he was absent from the meeting while out of town on business.

Alcohol enforcement

During the study session, council members and city manager Scott Meyer discussed a proposed ordinance that would bar anyone younger than 21 from being in an establishment that makes 35 percent or more annual gross sales from alcohol past 10 p.m. without a parent or legal guardian. The city, through a partnership with the university, plans to step up enforcement of its current laws dealing with underage drinking instead of passing a new ordinance.

Council members agree with only increasing enforcement for now, but councilman Mark Lanzotti said he wants to see a proposal containing the number of enforcement events that will be held by the police department and other agencies during the next year. Council members also told Meyer they want to make sure "problem bars" are well informed that there will be a crackdown on liquor license requirements, which they believe will help curb the problem of those establishments serving alcohol to minors.

The council also approved the first reading of an ordinance that will allow more bars to open on Sunday and others to open two hours earlier to match recent changes to state law. The current city ordinance pertaining to Sunday sales requires businesses to have 50 percent of sales of prepared meals or food to be able to sell liquor on Sunday. The ordinance would remove that requirement. A final approval by the council would also allow businesses licensed to sell alcohol by the drink to begin serving at 9 a.m. instead of 11 a.m.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

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Map of pertinent addresses

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