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Aldermanic committee to review Manchester pawn shop ordinance

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 15. 2012 9:48PM

MANCHESTER -The aldermanic administration committee will be asked Tuesday afternoon to reconsider some elements of the pawnshop ordinance that went into effect Aug. 1, with the time restriction on resale of items getting the most criticism. The committee meets at 4:30 p.m. in the aldermanic chamber.

Committee Chairman Phil Greazzo, who voted against passage of the ordinance, said the requirement that items be held for 30 days before resale is too long.

Greazzo thinks two weeks is long enough, considering that store owners must upload a digital photo of the each item and seller, along with certain information on the day they acquire it.

Jeff Shaughnessy at ReCell Mobile, 575 S. Willow St., thinks the hold time should be even shorter. 'Seven to 10 days is manageable and fair,' said Shaughnessy.

ReCell buys and sells phones. 'Holding them for 30 days, a new phone could come out,' said Shaughnessy. 'We could be sitting on thousands of dollars in phones.'

He said the business, which also repairs phones and sells month-to-month service on three wireless networks, needs to have quick turnover on phones because there's a new model out almost every month.

Although cell phones are popular theft items, Shaughnessy said he's not automatically suspicious when one person brings in a number of phones at once or over a short period of time, figuring the seller may be bringing in phones for friends or relatives or that they bought them on Craig's List.

He said he can check Verizon, Sprint and US Cellular phones against a list of phones reported stolen, because those phones have an electronic serial number unique to the device. He said he cannot do the same for AT&T and T-Mobile phones because their technology identifies individual devices by a tiny, removable and replaceable SIM card.

The new ordinance, which took effect Aug. 1, covers more than 50 businesses. While Shaughnessy said some of his merchandise could be out of date in 30 days, Joe Lacerda, owner of Manchester Music Mill, said he had to rent storage space for musical instruments. High volume businesses complain the $1 per transaction fee adds up quickly.

The digital information is uploaded directly to LeadsOnline, which enables some 2,000 police departments around the country to log in and check for stolen items. Manchester is the first New Hampshire community to participate in LeadsOnline.

Under the old system, pawnshop and secondhand store owners had three days to give a paper pawn slip to police. A week after the item was pawned, it could be sold.

Manchester police Sgt. John Patti, a detective who oversees the system, said that under the old system, a police department secretary had to enter the information on the pawn slip into the computer system. In 2010, that was 25,000 slips for 63,000 items.

It was not unusual under that system for police to have only four days to match pawned or sold items to reported stolen items.

Given that some people are away when their residence is burglarized, or don't notice something is missing immediately, or have difficulty finding serial numbers of stolen items, Patti said many stolen items were resold before they could be recovered.

He is very pleased with the number of items recovered, and alleged burglars charged, since the new ordinance went into effect.

Under the old ordinance, victims often didn't get their stolen property back because of the short sales turnaround. Although it doesn't relieve the stress of having had their personal space violated, the ordinance improves the odds of their property being recovered.

'This is victim-driven,' said Capt. Nick Willard, who heads the police investigative division.

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