Cash-for-gold and cash-for-gift-cards stores would be regulated just like pawnshops, and new ones would be prevented from opening on the perimeter streets of the village, under a proposed ordinance introduced at Oak Park Village Hall on Monday.
The village also would require existing pawnshops, cash-for-gold and cash-for-gift-card shops to report pawned items to a statewide computer database, such as LeadsOnline.com, a massive online database used by law enforcement agencies to identify and track stolen items.
Pawnshop owners are now only required to keep a record of all transactions for review by law enforcement officials upon request.
“It’s an online database that anybody across the state can search, any law enforcement official across the state that has a subscription to it can search, so they can look for serial numbers and match stolen items, so maybe if it’s stolen from a another municipality they will be able to match it here,” Tammie Grossman, director of development customer services, told the Oak Park Board of Trustees.
She said similar ordinances have been approved in Evanston, Hanover Park and Naperville.
Charitable organizations such as the Brown Elephant Resale Shop, 217 Harrison St., that take donations for resale would be exempted from the ordinance, Grossman said.
Community organizer Judith Alexander, chairwoman of the North Avenue Zoning and Development Advisory Committee (NAZDAC) and the North Avenue Neighbors Association (NANA), has been working with residents and the village since last year to ban new cash-for-gold and cash-for-gift-card stores from the business district.
Alexander and others have argued that these businesses, like pawnshops, discourage economic development and encourage robberies and burglaries in the village.
“Previously, cash-for-gold stores were considered jewelry stores, which they certainly are not,” she told the board of trustees, calling them “secondhand operations.” Alexander said cash-for-gift-card stores similarly encourage theft, shoplifting and burglaries.
NANA and NAZDAC have taken on the issue of restricting secondhand dealer businesses such as pawnshops from perimeter streets that form the borders of the village primarily because of a proliferation of such businesses along North Avenue.
Alexander has argued in the past that the village waited too long to ban pawn shops. Eight such businesses opened on North Avenue alone. She said this new ordinance aims to stop cash-for-gold and cash-for-gift-card stores from opening. None currently operate in Oak Park.
“There was a cash-for-gold operation on Roosevelt Road on the Oak Park side. It closed, but we think whenever prices rise on gold they’ll want to open again,” she told Wednesday Journal.
Alexander said that in addition to deterring business development and encouraging crime, pawnshops and the like “frighten residents” and discourage them from going to certain business districts.
“I’ve heard that expressed by people both in Galewood and Oak Park; ‘We don’t patronize those kinds of businesses, what are they doing here?'” she said.