The Roseburg Police Department might soon have a new way to track and recover stolen property.
At the City Council meeting Monday, Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein presented councilors with a draft ordinance that would require secondhand property dealers in Roseburg to upload information about items they purchase to LeadsOnline, an online database.
The database would allow officers to check if items reported stolen were recently sold to secondhand stores. Officers could also upload information about stolen property to notify secondhand store owners.
While some store owners say the ordinance wouldn’t substantially affect their businesses, they think the regulations would be a burden to comply with.
In 2013, the City Council decided not to implement a similar program after it received backlash from store owners who weren’t willing to pay for the service.
The department recently paid about $3,200 for a contract with LeadsOnline that would make the service free to store owners, Klopfenstein said.
“All that’s required of secondhand businesses would be to have internet and a computer or data and an iPad or an iPhone,” Klopfenstein told councilors. “I took the brunt of the costs. It’s that important to us.”
A lower number of stolen goods are sold at secondhand stores when owners adhere to a strict requirement of identification verification and completely document descriptions of merchandise, Klopfenstein said, referring to information from the National Pawnbrokers Association.
The ordinance wouldn’t affect thrift stores such as Goodwill or The Salvation Army.
Diamond Dan’s owner Mike Dillman said he still doesn’t support the ordinance because it would take time to upload items to the database. He added the ordinance forces him to help law enforcement for free.
“It’s not going to hurt my business, or help my business, it’s just going to take up my time,” Dillman said. “I understand (Klopfenstein) is trying to do something good. But there’s no upside for me.”
Store owners would be prohibited from selling items within seven days of the purchase unless they photograph the item and keep record of it, according to the ordinance. During that waiting period, purchased items must be segregated from for-sale items, unless the size of the item prevents segregation. Store owners would also be prohibited from selling items for 30 days if a police officer made a request.
Salem, Eugene, Medford and Grants Pass have similar ordinances.
Some stores in Roseburg might already use the online database, according to Klopfenstein. He said Associated Buyers LLC does.
Dillman said Oregon law already requires him to do much of what’s contained within the ordinance, such as documenting a seller’s ID. He said he doesn’t think the ordinance will deter theft, but he acknowledged it might help return stolen property.
“I don’t want to buy stolen stuff,” Dillman said. “When people come in to begin with, I usually have a pretty good idea. Just based on what they have, what they look like and what they smell like.”
The ordinance would also prevent store owners from buying items if the seller is “clearly” intoxicated, if there’s a reason to believe the seller isn’t the owner or if serial numbers have been altered.
The Police Department sent out a letter notifying 25 secondhand store owners in Roseburg of the proposed ordinance. The letter described the regulations and invited store owners to a town hall meeting to discuss them on May 28.
Dillman was the only store owner who showed up to the meeting, but Klopfenstein said Dillman’s comments were helpful in crafting the draft ordinance.
Dillman said he advocated for the ordinance to include an exceptions to the seven-day waiting period. He often purchases tens of thousands of dollars worth of generic gold and silver bars — a transaction that depletes his accounts. He needs to be able to sell them to wholesalers quickly so his accounts can be replenished in case he needs to do a similar transaction the next day, he said.
Roseburg Resale owner Curt Smith said he supports the ordinance, but he added it would be a slight burden. He said only a small number of the items he buys would fall under the ordinance.
“I buy probably 95% of my stuff at estate sales, auctions, private parties, houses,” Smith said. The draft ordinance doesn’t require those items to be uploaded to the database.
If the city council adopted the ordinance, store owners who refuse to comply would be subject to a municipal code violation, which carries up to a $1,500 per day fine, according to interim Roseburg City Manager Nikki Messenger.
Klopfenstein said police chiefs in Sutherlin and Winston told him they would like to copy the Roseburg ordinance if the city adopts it.