Thefts prompt police to monitor cash-for-gold shops
Milwaukee - Law enforcement and local governments are scrambling to shut down a shadow industry that has grown up around the booming cash-for-gold business nationwide: thieves are snatching jewelry , then converting it into quick payday at the shops. Thousands of shops have opened to take advantage of high gold prices and hard economic times, and police in some cities have noticed an uptick in burglaries and thefts. Concerned about a growing criminal trade, Milwaukee passed an ordinance this summer to help police spot stolen jewelry being sold before it was too late to recover. Other cities are rushing to take similar measures, finding that the usual ways of tracking stolen goods can’t cope with the modern-day gold rush. Authorities say the increase in gold sales overwhelmed anti-crime recordkeeping requirements that were designed for pawn shops. Clerks were required to record information about the sellers and items sold but it wasn’t entered into the law enforcement database for weeks. Even when a holding period was required for items bought, jewelry often had been resold or melted down to make new precious objects before police caught up. In July the Milwaukee Common Council voted to require all gold-buying shops to electronically submit the seller’s name and photo to police, along with a photo of the items sold. Last fall, Maryland passed a similar measure and on Oct. 1 will require buyers to have a fixed location. Last year, Florida started requiring mail-in-gold-buying companies to put sales information on a database accessible to law enforcement.