Riverside’s village board voted 5 to 0 on March 19 to impose new rules for cash-for-gold businesses, with trustees agreeing to discuss even further measures next month.
According to the new law, such businesses must keep detailed records of each transaction made, and those records must be available for review by police at any time during business hours.
In addition, the new law requires cash-for-gold businesses to keep merchandise they buy, without altering it, onsite for 72 hours after purchase. Such businesses are also required to provide police with records of purchases made on a daily basis, either electronically or in writing.
The village’s police chief requested that trustees consider amending Riverside’s code related to secondhand dealers after a suburban police department reported that a suspect in their custody said he had sold stolen items at the Cash 4 Gold location at 3232 S. Harlem Ave.
But by the time police were able to get to the store, the merchandise already had been sent out to be melted and the store had no records of the transaction, making further investigation impossible.
The amended code requires cash-for-gold businesses to obtain information about each seller, including a copy of a photo ID. If the seller doesn’t have a photo ID, the business either must take a photo of the seller themselves or decline the transaction.
“Regulations are a way for us to conduct a legitimate investigation and have a starting point,” Police Chief Tom Weitzel told village trustees during a discussion of the proposed ordinance earlier in March.
While trustees unanimously agreed to the new rules for cash-for-gold stores, at least three trustees are also in favor of exploring even more rules for such stores, specifically requiring them to install surveillance cameras inside such establishments.
Trustee Joseph Ballerine pushed trustees to include such language prior to the board voting on the new code on March 19.
“I still think that we would be best to ask that this type of precious metal dealer have also video surveillance of the property and demanding that it has to be libraried for at least 30 days,” said Ballerine.
Ballerine stated that the maximum fine the village can impose – $750 – isn’t enough of a deterrent for selling stolen items.
“How do you know if they’re following through on all these precautions and all this paperwork unless we can actually see the traffic that goes in and out there?” asked Ballerine.
But Trustee James Reynolds disagreed, saying requiring such a system might be onerous for the business owner. In many cases, Reynolds added, such businesses install video cameras anyway.
Trustee Mark Shevitz, meanwhile, doubted a video camera would provide much more information than such businesses are already required to obtain from customers. Responding to Ballerine’s suggestion that without video, businesses could be shortchanging the record-keeping requirements, Shevitz said, “If the guy wants to get around it, he can get around it.”
Village Attorney Lance Malina said that the village has the ability to impose such a requirement if it wants to, but cautioned that such a requirement could be challenged if the village made it too onerous.
“I suppose somebody could argue that it’s such an imposition that it’s, in effect, a desire to outlaw that kind of business,” said Malina. “It would really depend on what kind of system you would expect.”
The village board is expected to take up the discussion of requiring video surveillance at cash-for-gold businesses at their next meeting, on April 2.