By Tim Jamison
January 8, 2019
WATERLOO — The Waterloo Police Department is looking to upgrade the city’s pawn shop regulations to recover more stolen property.
Maj. Joe Leibold presented the proposed ordinance changes to City Council members Monday and expects to bring them back for adoption in the near future.
Key elements of the plan include a new transaction fee to fund an online service that compares items pawn shops receive to lists of stolen property reported to police.
Leibold said he began doing research on the city’s 20-year-old pawn shop ordinance and met with representatives of the four pawn businesses in Waterloo.
“We started comparing it to other cities and found out we were fairly far behind in how we monitor pawn transactions and trailed (other cities) in a lot of stolen property,” Leibold said. “We were just not having a lot of success.”
The proposed ordinance boosts the surety bond amounts and requires pawn shops to photocopy a government ID when accepting property from a customer. But the biggest change is a new 50-cent transaction fee for each item pawned or sold to the store.
Leibold said the fee will help pay the annual $8,650 cost of using Leads Online, which will instantly compare the pawned items to stolen goods entered into the system. Money leftover from the transaction fee will reimburse pawn shops for items police seize.
“Right now they’re just out the money,” he said. “If we go recover a stolen TV from them, they’re just out the money.”
Using Leads Online will also speed up the process and shorten the time pawn shops must keep items they acquire.
“The pawn shops benefit because right now they’ve got to hold stuff for 30 days to give us time to look,” Leibold said. “Because of the speed, we’ve reduced that time frame to 15 days.”
Leibold said he believes the local pawn shops are supportive of the changes.
“I did not want to affect their business negatively,” he said. “I wanted them to remain competitive and be able to compete in the market.
“They benefit by getting paid back for stolen property and by reducing their holding times,” he added. “We benefit by having the (Leads Online service) essentially paid for by the users.”