In an effort to curtail the fencing of stolen goods, at their Nov. 2 meeting, Albuquerque City Councilors passed sweeping new rules for not only pawn shops but precious metal dealers, secondhand retailers and even those automated kiosks that purchase small electronics such as cell phones.
It took about three years to bring this overhaul to the government meeting table. It will impact about 150 businesses and 15 pawn shops. Councilor Diane Gibson brought the idea up in 2017 to overhaul the ordinance already on the books, which required the pawnbrokers to do some due diligence and tell police about certain types of transactions. But police and crime stats said this was not enough. The new ordinance applies to secondhand guns, jewelry, tools, precious metals and stones, musical instruments, sporting goods and consumer electronics such as mobile phones, televisions, digital cameras and computers. According to the city’s legal beagles, these are the items that are rotating in and out of the crime cycle.
A trip to the pawn shop to unload some bling will now require a photograph of the seller and the item. Retailers will also have to document the item’s serial number (if possible) as well as the seller’s name, address and date of birth. By doing all this, Albuquerque Police Department Sgt. Jeff Barnard said police would have the ability to compare pawned goods against those reported stolen. The measure was not unanimous, as Councilor Don Harris voted in the negative, saying it was too much regulation. It will take more officers and more man hours; but if stolen goods fencing is the huge problem we all know it is, then putting some additional officers on this gets a thumbs-up.
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