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Medford pawn shops asked to help nab thieves

The City Council on Thursday agreed to consider new rules requiring a longer period to hold items sold at pawn shops as well as to take require photos of all jewelry, tools or other goods brought in for sale.

The council agreed to consider changes to the city’s ordinance to hold purchases of jewelry and other items for 15 days instead of the current five. Councilors want to hold a public hearing to get feedback from pawn shops and second-hand stores at a later time.

Pawn shops and second-hand stores also would be required to upload photos of all items purchased to the Medford Police Department, under the proposed ordinance.

“We get to see who’s pawning what,” Medford police Sgt. Brent Mak said.

He said two pawn shops already have voluntarily uploaded photos of purchased items to a website viewed by police.

Pawn shops owners say they fear the changes could cost them money and require additional manpower.

Currently, shops that buy used jewelry and gold are required to keep the goods for five days, after which it is often melted down for sale. Police say they need at least 15 days because the investigation often can take longer than the current five days.

The 15-day proposal is a compromise — other Oregon cities require holding items for up to 30 days.

Another change being proposed is to allow reporting of purchased items by pawn shops or second-hand stores in a 24-hour period. Currently, stores are required to report by the end of the business day, which can be difficult if a purchase is made just prior to closing.

This year so far, police say they have received reports of 545 stolen items. Of those, 443 items were recovered from pawn shops and second-hand stores throughout Jackson County. About 86 percent of the solved cases, or 382, came after required information was turned over to police by the shops and then run through LeadsOnline, a database system that police use to find stolen jewelry. Approximately 3 percent of the cases were reported as suspected stolen goods by the shops and another 3 percent were resolved by the victims who went store-to-store looking for their belongings. In 8 percent of the cases, a suspected confessed to selling an item at a pawn shop.

Mak said 102 items were not recovered. That number could be reduced if the proposed 15-day holding period were enacted, he said.

Allstar Pawn in Medford had the largest number of cases of recovered property at 173, but Mak said 70 items were from a single case.

Medford police also recovered stolen items outside the city limits, including 66 items at Cash Connection in Central Point.

The most popular stolen item is tools, with 135 recovered. The second most popular stolen item is jewelry at 116, followed by 19 guns and 84 lots of ammunition.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow on Twitter at @reporterdm.