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Officials eye tighter rein for Naperville pawnshops

<p>File Photo</p>

File Photo

Naperville City Council members are taking a look at tightening the rules for businesses that buy and sell precious metals, gems and jewelry.

An ordinance to be scrutinized by the council Tuesday evening would require pawnbrokers and secondhand sellers of those goods to enter photo identification of sellers, as well as pictures of the goods they are pawning, into a searchable online database that eases the process of tracking stolen items.

If approved, the Pawnbroker and Secondhand Dealer Ordinance also will require the businesses to wait seven days before “selling or otherwise disposing of the jewelry, giving police time to investigate,” according to a memo from Police Chief Bob Marshall and Kristen Foley, senior assistant city attorney.

Five pawn shops operate in the city, most of them concentrated on the stretch of Ogden Avenue between Washington Street and Naper Boulevard. All five shop owners were invited to discuss the ordinance proposal with staff at a May 9 meeting, but none of them attended or offered feedback by phone, according to the memo.

Council member Steve Chirico has said the city is “trailing” nearby communities in not having an ordinance enabling pawn shops and cash-for-gold businesses to gather information from people who bring in goods for sale. The concern is that the items might have been stolen and often are promptly melted down to enhance their value on the subsequent market.

The discrepancy, he said, puts the city at a disadvantage relative to Aurora, Plainfield, Lisle and Bolingbrook, all of which enter information into the LeadsOnline database. Plainfield and Aurora also have laws on the books regulating pawnshops and similar businesses.

“It certainly makes sense that (people with stolen goods) in Aurora would then come to our city to trade them in, unidentified, anonymously,” Chirico said in a September 2013 meeting.

The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce was tapped for input as the local legislation was being crafted. The business organization supports the proposal. Participation in LeadsOnline would cost $7,000 annually, which would include training for each pawnbroker or secondhand seller.

Naperville police investigated 1,304 thefts and 226 burglaries in 2013. Burglars and thieves often target jewelry because it is compact and easy to sell.

“Detectives have found stolen jewelry is pawned or sold to cash-for-gold stores,” the memo notes. “Without specific information as to the person selling the jewelry and pictures of the jewelry for victims to identify, it is difficult to make an arrest.”

 

What else is on the council’s plate?

Issue: Relocating motorcycle-only parking spaces downtown during summer.

Background: As part of the establishment’s family-friendly rebranding effort, a manager of Jimmy’s Grill requested that the designated bike parking on the south side of the restaurant and bar at Chicago Avenue and Washington Street be moved elsewhere. He cited the noise, exhaust and crowd-gathering effects of the motorcycles as problematic.

What it means: If passed, the measure will move the eight motorcycle spaces around the corner, to a segment of Jackson Avenue west of Main Street. The current motorcycle parking on Chicago Avenue will become two car spaces, and a two-hour parking limit will be implemented for the block between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

 

Issue: Clearing the way for Hillside Riverwalk Plaza, which would consist of a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin-Robbins.

Background: An earlier proposal that needed four zoning variances would have put three businesses on the parcel, which covers slightly less than an acre on the southeast corner of Washington Street and Hillside Road. The new request meets zoning regulations for the B3 district and does not need approval from the council for its site plan.

What it means: If the lower-density proposal is cleared, the property owner will dedicate 50-foot easements on both the east and west edges of the property, to be used as right-of-way.

 

Issue: Modifying the requirements for firefighter/paramedic/police applicants.

Background: Currently, candidates for firefighter and paramedic positions must be at least 21 years old and have earned their licensing when they apply for jobs. Police Department applicants must have earned four-year college degrees before seeking work. The rule adjustments, if approved, will keep the requirements in place for new hires, but will allow job seekers to enter the selection process while they are still in school.

What it means: The proposed changes, which have the support of the city’s Fire and Police Commission, are aimed at widening the city’s recruitment reach and encouraging a wider pool of prospective public safety responders.

 

Issue: Letting a $1 million contract for storm-sewer re-lining work, to prevent flooding problems after unusually heavy rain.

Background: The city’s program, based on a 75-year life expectancy for storm-sewer piping, repairs cracks by using a felt material made adhesive with epoxy. Over the past decade, almost 30 miles of pipes have been re-lined.

What it means: The next phase will focus on Hobson Meadows, Pembroke Commons and Market Meadows, and sections in Tall Grass, Breckenridge, River Run and Cress Creek.

The Naperville City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers at the Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle St.

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