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article imageOntario police chiefs want database for pawnshops Special

By KJ Mullins     May 24, 2011 in Crime
For 100 years the rules have remained the same for Ontario pawn brokers. Those old laws need to be changed, according to the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP).
OACP has been working for 10 years to bring forth new laws to govern pawnbrokers in Ontario. Their efforts to serve crime victims who want to have their stolen property returned has been conveyed to lawmakers at Queen's Park.
The current laws do not allow for police personnel to do their jobs on behalf of Ontarians according to OACP. At this time pawnshops do not have to keep electronic records of their transactions, records that the police could use to identify stolen goods that often wind up on the shelves at these establishments.
Despite a proposal in 2006 in which the OACP provided a policing expert to work with Ministry of the Attorney General officials to bring forth new legislation options there has been no progress made.
The terms of the current laws should they be enforced to the letter would likely put the entire pawnbroker business out of business.
The OACP has informed the Attorney General of Ontario that because of the ministry's unwillingness or inability to move forward with new laws Chiefs of Police in Ontario have been advised to review their resources in order to address the needs of crime victims. At this point they are considering advising victims to "seek remedy with their personal and property insurance carriers as property recovery would no longer be a policing priority."
Director of Government Relations & Communications Joe Couto said during a phone interview that the OACP is not trying to close down pawnshops simply bring the 21st century into effect.
"The way it is now unless the police directly ask a pawn shop about stolen property the shops do not give up the information. The police agencies and the pawnshops do not have the resources to change this without making a database where new merchandise is entered in as it comes into the shops."
Couto said that this database is needed because the criminals are as mobile as the rest of the population.
"Criminals often travel to sell their stolen property instead of selling it close to the crime scene."
The police can only do their best Couto said when it comes to retrieving stolen property.
"It's frustrating not to have the tools that would better serve our communities."
Some of the proposed changes to current laws by the OCAP are:
Inspection by police
15. Every police officer shall at all times be given access to and may inspect a pawnbroker's books, papers and pledges, and when so engaged may have with him or her such other persons as he or she considers advisable. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.6, s. 15.
Where sum lent is more than $15 and not more than $30
21. (1)Where the sum lent upon a pledge is more than $15 but not more than $30, the pawnbroker may at any time after it has been in pawn for at least one year send to the pawner by first-class prepaid mail to the address shown in the pawnbroker's book to be the address of the pawner a notice identifying the transaction and stating that, unless the pledge is redeemed within the fifteen days next after the day of mailing the notice, it becomes the pawnbroker's absolute property.
Idem
(2) Any such pledge may be redeemed at any time within the fifteen days next after the day of mailing the notice by tendering to the pawnbroker the pawnticket, the sum borrowed and the lawful interest and charges, and, if it is not so redeemed, it becomes the pawnbroker's absolute property. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.6, s. 21.
Where sum lent is more than $30: notice by mail and newspaper
22. (1)Where the sum lent upon a pledge is more than $30, the pawnbroker may at any time after it has been in pawn for at least one year send to the pawner by first-class prepaid mail to the address shown by the pawnbroker's book to be the address of the pawner a notice identifying the transaction and stating that, unless the pledge is redeemed within the fifteen days next after the day of mailing the notice, a final notice will be published in a newspaper having general circulation in the municipality in which the pawnbroker carries on business identifying the transaction and stating that, unless the pledge is redeemed within the fifteen days next after the day of publication of the notice, it becomes the pawnbroker's absolute property.
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