Strict rules for cash-for-gold stores

Opinion

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Nothing says good times like a cash-for-gold store. From the garish yellow signs to the bright red letters to the desolate lobby where the transactions take place. No recession would be complete without one.

What Riverside, which has never had the pleasure of benefiting from a cash-for-gold business, has found out is that it's nice to have regulations in place for such business. If there are none, the businesses apparently don't rush to institute them on their own.

When a suburban police department caught a burglary suspect, he reportedly told them he took some of the jewelry he stole to the Riverside Cash 4 Gold to get rid of it. And get rid of the goods he did - without a trace.

By the time Riverside police visited the store, the goods had been purchased, shipped out of town and melted down. No record of the purchase remained, at least any record available for police to inspect.

Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said in an interview with the Landmark last week that such information gets around. If there's a store that's unregulated, it can become a go-to place to get rid of stolen merchandise. Maybe the business has tight internal controls that prevent such things from happening. We don't know. Our attempts to contact the owner of the Riverside Cash 4 Gold, including a visit to the store and a call to a cellphone number provided to the village's building department, went unanswered.

With this in mind, Riverside is well within its rights to implement strict regulations on the existing Cash 4 Gold and any other similar businesses that might be contemplating coming to town.

North Riverside already has regulations on the books concerning what they term "secondhand dealers." The town has one cash-for-gold store on Cermak Road.

It calls for records and items to be kept and made available for inspection by police. However, the North Riverside law doesn't require such stores to hang on to items for any length of time, something we believe might prevent stolen items from being melted down before they can be recovered.

We support a provision being floated by Riverside to require cash-for-gold operations to keep items they have purchased up to 72 hours before melting the items down or sending them out to be melted down.

No reputable dealer could possibly object to a law that seeks to prevent precious stolen merchandise from being lost.

And it might behoove other municipalities - Brookfield comes to mind - who don't have these kinds of businesses yet to make sure such businesses keep detailed records of transactions. Moreover, those records ought to be available for inspection by police on demand. And, yes, those records ought to be transmitted daily to police, who receive reports about burglaries and thefts from departments across the area every day.

The point is to be able to quickly track down stolen precious metals before they're melted down for scrap and are unidentifiable.

This editorial has been changed to reflect that North Riverside does have a cash-for-gold store operating in the village. The original editorial indicated that the village had no such stores.

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