New Indiana Law Targets Thieves Selling Goods at Pawn Shops

By JENNY PETER, Vincennes Sun-Commercial | January 31, 2014

A new state law that aims to catch burglars in the act of selling off their ill-gotten goods will cost local coin shop owners both time and money.

Bob Dutton of Coin Hut, 504 Main St., must now pay an annual fee of $150 – $100 goes to the state and $50 goes to the local police department – and also better document every purchase he makes. When someone comes into his store wanting to sell jewelry, Dutton must photograph each of the items as well as the seller’s driver’s license or personal ID card.

All of the information and items must be kept, unaltered, for at least 10 days so local police have enough time to search local coin and pawn shops for stolen merchandise in the event of a burglary.

Requiring them to register allows police to keep an accurate, up-to-date list, of all the local shops to which burglars could potentially sell stolen goods, city police Chief Dusty Luking told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial.

Dutton has owned Coin Hut for more than three decades and already keeps pretty extensive records, so he says the new law will have little effect on the way he does business.

“I’ve been doing it that way for 33 years,” he said, “writing down names, checking IDs. A lot of that is federal law anyway. The only thing I have to do different is scan the driver’s license and take photos of what I’m buying.

“Everything else I did for my own protection anyway. It’s just part of being in the business.”

Dutton said previously he kept his records for seven days. He will now be required to keep them for 10 days.

“Still, that’s not too bad,” he said.

Since there are only a handful of local pawn and coin shops, Luking said the revenue brought into the police department as a result of the $50 fee will be minimal. But he believes the law itself will go a long way toward officers being able to catch criminals.

“We’ve had success in the past when it comes to identifying stolen merchandise,” Luking said. “But the bad news was if you didn’t get there before it had been packaged up and sent it off, then it was gone forever.

“This will give us another tool to use when trying to track down property involved in crimes,” he said. “It’s a good thing.”

Luking said the buying and selling of gold has increased the number of burglaries in recent years. As selling gold and precious metals became so easy – and so lucrative – doing so illegally became a “big issue” for police.

This fall local police saw a significant increase in home burglaries, many of them occurring during the day and right downtown. Some homes were even hit more than once. And more often than not, the burglars were taking jewelry.

At its peak, city police were investigating more than one burglary a day, but numbers have since leveled off as police made an arrest in connection with them.

Unfortunately, Luking still worries criminals will find ways of getting around the new cash-for-gold law. More often than not, Luking said thieves already take stolen merchandise outside the county – even outside the state – to sell so as not to leave a trail.

“But this is still a move in the right direction,” Luking said. “If nothing else, then we’ll have the opportunity to look for some of these items if we believe them to still be in the area. Before, we couldn’t because we didn’t have the records to follow up on.”

The money that is raised from the fee, Luking said, will go toward continuing education for police.

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