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New England News

Three-Year Extension Of Springfield Pawn Shop Moratorium Considered

A pawn shop store front

Police officials in Springfield are urging members of the city council to extend the western Massachusetts city’s moratorium on new pawn shops.

Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri said the two-year moratorium has helped to control crime – not just in Springfield but throughout western Massachusetts — and he recommends it be extended beyond its scheduled expiration this June.

Barbieri said the 42 pawn shops and junk dealers currently licensed in the city is a manageable number for police to keep tabs on.

" If you have an item stolen, you want the police department  to have a fair shot to make the rounds to all the secondhand junk dealers and pawn shops to make every effort to recover your property, " said Barbieri.

  In a report to the city council’s Public Safety Committee, Springfield police detailed more than a dozen cases where jewelry, electronics and other property stolen from residences throughout western Massachusetts were recovered from pawn shops.

 In addition to the moratorium on new stores, the city in 2014 put tougher regulations on pawn shops and secondhand stores that require used goods be held for at least 30 days before being put up for sale.  The stores were also required to replace handwritten log books of their inventory with a computerized record including photographs of jewelry.

Police conducted a sting right after the new rules took effect and as a result of the investigation the licenses for three pawnshops were revoked and fines were levied against five more businesses.

" We are getting a good level of cooperation from the pawn shops ( now)," said Barbieri.  "At this point there are no indications that there are unscrupulous pawn shops operating as there had been in the past."

Barbieri said the MGM casino, which is scheduled to open in September 2018, could be a magnet for would-be pawn shop operators looking for customers who need quick cash for gambling.

" I think the city has to be concerned about people with gambling addictions and we have to be careful about who we grant licenses to, " said the commissioner.

The chairman of the council’s Public Safety Committee, Tom Ashe, said he’s prepared to recommend a three-year extension of the moratorium.

" I have not heard anyone saying we could use more pawn shops, or junk dealers. I think the public is satisfied with the number we have and there is no need more more," said Ashe.

Ashe, who sponsored the 2014 pawn shop ordinance said it has helped police do their job.

" We want housebreaks to go down, and if there is a break-in we want people to have a fair shot at getting their valuables back and that is happening," said Ashe, adding " Mission accomplished on what we set out to do."

Ashe said he plans to schedule meetings in each of the city’s eight council wards to give people a chance to comment on the pawn shop moratorium and public safety issues in general.

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