In response to the recent opening of a Cash 4 Gold store on Harlem Avenue, Riverside’s police chief is pushing the village board to amend its code to require such stores to keep strict records, make those records available to the police daily and hold onto items they buy for up to 72 hours.

On March 5, the Riverside Village Board considered a proposed change in the ordinance governing businesses that sell precious metals, second-hand goods and antiques. Trustees could make the stricter rules village law as early as March 19.

“Regulations are a way for us to conduct a legitimate investigation and have a starting point,” said Police Chief Tom Weitzel, who told trustees that the business is now under no obligation to keep any record at all of the merchandise that is brought into the storefront and shipped elsewhere to be melted down.

Cash 4 Gold opened at 3232 Harlem Ave. in January. The business is a spartan affair. A bright yellow sign with red lettering tops the entrance, which leads into an empty, carpeted lobby framed by yellow walls. The lone feature on the wall opposite the entry is a door and a thick glass window with a small opening at the bottom for sliding items to an employee on the other side.

It’s a no nonsense operation. People who need cash come in and sell their precious metals – at this point with no questions asked, or at least required by the village.

Attempts by the Landmark to contact the owner of the business, at the store and by phone, were unsuccessful.

While cash-for-gold businesses are legitimate enterprises, said Weitzel, they have also been known to be places where stolen items can be turned into cash and then quickly disposed of. If there is no record of what’s being bought and melted down, there’s no way to investigate any claim that stolen property may have been sold at the store.

“Even if the gold has been melted down already, it would help in prosecution,” said Weitzel. “If there’s no documentation, we’re out of luck.”

And if criminals get wind of a cash-for-gold business that isn’t required to keep records, that information gets around, says Weitzel.

“If we don’t have an ordinance in place, word will get out and they will go there specifically because they know no ID is required,” said Weitzel.

Weitzel told the board that his request is a direct result of a case where someone arrested for burglary in another suburb claimed he had sold items at the Riverside Cash 4 Gold store.

According to Weitzel, his department’s detective went to the store after being notified by Burbank police that someone in their custody had admitted to selling items at the Harlem Avenue store. However, while the business was cooperative with police, they had no records and the manager told police that the items had been sent to a Rosemont location to be melted.

“They didn’t have any records, they didn’t even require anyone to Xerox a state ID or driver’s license, so we couldn’t see who sold the property or anything to trace back,” Weitzel said.

The proposal on the table would require that all goods purchased by a precious metals dealer be kept onsite and available for inspection by police for 72 hours. In addition, the law would require the dealer to keep a detailed record of the item, including any model number, inscription or identifying marks as well as noting the type of metal and gem stones.

That information must be kept in a book or on a computer, along with information relating to the seller, including a name, address, date of birth, phone number and the license plate number of the vehicle belonging to the seller.

The law would also require the seller to sign a statement stating that he was the legal owner of the property and sellers would be required to present two forms of identification, including at least one with a photo.

Not only are those records to be made available for police inspection at any time, the dealer would be required to transmit, either electronically or in person, a daily report of the purchases made by the store.

Failure to comply with any of the record-keeping requirements would trigger a fine of up to $750 for each offense, which is the maximum fine a non-home rule community like Riverside can impose.

The new law would also affect other businesses in town that trade in precious metals, such as Arcade Jewelers on East Burlington Street. Co-owner Robin Mooney said she is fine with the proposed rules, but that they wouldn’t affect her business much.

Two-thirds to three-quarters of Arcade Jewelers’ stock are estate pieces, Mooney said, purchased through private collectors and dealers. While the store has bought gold from customers, it is typically from existing customers, Mooney said.

“It’s a very small part of our business,” she said. “We’re a different animal. Cash-for-gold places are really acting as intermediaries to a refinery.”