Just as city councilors began to vote on whether to approve the ordinance, Councilor Duff White got up and walked away and did not return until after the voting by the other councilors was complete. White did not recuse himself from the vote, just simply walked off. The move clearly surprised some of his fellow councilors.
The approved ordinance will require any dealer of jewelry, precious metals or precious gems and any pawnbroker to keep a written record of every purchase or pawn transaction involving used precious metals for 14 days. The ordinance requires that all records include a description of any items purchased, the amount of money paid for items, the time and date of purchase and the name and address of the person selling the item. Records of transactions will then need to be provided to at least once a week.
The ordinance had been the topic of debate amongst some councilors, including White and Councilor Peter Blais, who showed support for an earlier version of the ordinance that would have also forced precious metal business owners like to also keep archived photo records of what comes in and out of their store.
At last week's packed public hearing, Attleboro Pawn Shop Co-Owner Cliff Frye accused Councilor White of threatening him, alleging that White gave an ultimatum to either comply with the suggestion of photo archiving or that the ordinance would not pass as written.
Attleboro Police Det. Sgt. Art Brillon said at the time that the additional measure would not be necessary. Frye also told the council last week that the measure would be a financial hardship for his small business and holding merchandise for 30 days could potentially put him out of business.
Brillon said the additional measure of photos would not be necessary.
"As the ordinance is written we expect it to be helpful to locate and retrieve stolen property," Brillon said. "The department was actively involved in writing and endorsing the ordinance with the help of Councilwoman Cherie Felos and Councilwoman Shannon Heagney and the city solicitor.
"We were very pleased to see the ordinance pass regarding the purchase and pawning of precious metals and gems," Brillon added. "The ordinance is expected to be very helpful in Attleboro as it is throughout Rhode Island, which has a statewide law. The Attleboro Police Department has already solved and resolved many cases where stolen property was sold or pawned at a local business."
Abutting departments such as North Attleboro and Norton will frequently review the activity in an attempt to locate stolen items, according to Brillon. Prior to the ordinance, the local businesses cooperated by verbal agreement only, however not every company reported on a regular basis, according to Brillon.
"Now they are expected to follow the guidelines of the ordinance or face a fine of $300.00," he said.
The ordinance passed with a 9-0 vote on Tuesday. Frye would not comment on the vote and what it means for his business.