In a move to deter the pawning of stolen goods, South Orange police Chief James M. Chelel is in favor of a municipal ordinance that would require local merchants who buy gold and jewelry to keep detailed records so police can track sellers.
The proposal, which would affect what village officials said are two or three town businesses, was not triggered by any recent incident, officials said.
But, according to Chelel, allowing police to see who is selling valuables is something other communities have implemented.
Trustee Michael Goldberg said July 3 that the ordinance aims to deter and discourage people from pawning stolen goods, not to punish local businesses.
Goldberg felt the earliest the measure would become law was sometime this fall. He cited Morris County as an example, where law-enforcement authorities have been able to arrest people thanks to the type of law he wants in South Orange.
In terms of the record-keeping he is seeking, Chelel wants merchants to keep photocopies of the seller’s identification, such as a driver’s license, and a photo of the merchandise.
Doing so would enable police to track back who sold the merchandise, the chief said.
Chelel also wants merchants to hold onto the goods for a still-undetermined period of time before resale, anywhere from three to five days. He added that trustees will need to decide on the time period with village Counsel Steven C. Rother.
“We’re not looking to harm a business,” Chelel said.
A draft of the proposed ordinance says buyers must wait 14 calendar days before reselling the items, Rother said July 12.
He said that number was used because that is the typical length of time a family is away from home. Rother said a shorter wait period before resale decreases the chance that stolen merchandise will be recovered.