Council, police differ on length of “hold” for pawned items

By James David Mitchell

  The city council this week was reluctant to fully embrace a request by local police officials to extend the “hold” regulation governing pawn shop operations and second-hand dealers to 30 days, but the councillors were noticeably more receptive to proposals to mandate computerized record-keeping and to implement a photo ID requirement.

  At Monday night’s meeting, Councillor-at-Large Dan Rizzo noted that the present law requires that items brought into local pawn and second-hand dealer shops must be “held” for seven days before they can be re-sold.

  The police are backing an ordinance amendment that would increase that “hold” period to 30 days, which is the standard in Lynn, Chelsea and Everett.

  This would give police extra-needed time to check for stolen property, Capt. Dennis Collyer told the councillors.

  “Drug addicts and dealers,” said Collyer, “are looking for quick cash”.

  But an attorney for the Jewelry Box contended that extending the “hold” period to 30 days would prove to be a hardship for some local businesses, like his client.

  Atty. John Cataldo told the council members that people need access to cash flow in these difficult economic times.

  “Thirty days is too tough of a restriction and could cost businesses money”, maintained Cataldo, who noted that some nearby communities have no holding period requirement.

  In the spirit of compromise, Councillor Rizzo suggested that the “hold” period be increased to 14 days.

  That pretty much lined up with preliminary action taken recently at a council sub-committee session when Ward Three Councillor Arthur Guinasso sponsored a motion to amend the police proposal by cutting back the “hold” period from 30 days to 15.

  It appears that the 15 day proposal is the current favorite of the council, although no final vote was taken.

  Ward Six Councillor Charles Patch said 15 days seemed to be an ample amount of time.

  Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto agreed, noting that the 30-day proposal “could cost a business a lot of money”.

  While the councilors differed with the police on the “hold” period issue, they appear to be in support of a provision to require the computerization of all transactions by pawn and second-hand shops.

  In addition, there seems to be support for a proposal to require photo ID’s of all patrons.

  The council ended up referring the proposed ordinance amendment to its legislative affairs sub-committee for further review.