Montcalm County secondhand dealer ordinance moves ahead

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:15 am on Wednesday, October 16, 2013

STANTON — A police chief’s proposal for a countywide secondhand dealers ordinance is moving forward.

The Montcalm County Law Enforcement & Courts Committee voted Tuesday to recommend the full board adopt the proposal. The full board will vote on the ordinance at the next regular meeting scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 28.

Commissioner Steve DeWitt of Coral, who is also the police chief for the village of Howard City, first proposed the ordinance early last summer, saying it would help local law enforcement officials track down stolen goods.

DeWitt said several programs are gaining in popularity for police officers searching for stolen merchandise at pawn shops, such as Business Watch International (BWI), which is currently being used in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Mount Pleasant and other Michigan cities.

The ordinance would define secondhand dealers as any person, corporation, member or members of a partnership, company or firm that engages in the business of purchasing, storing, selling, exchanging and receiving secondhand goods, including the receiving and selling of goods on consignment.

The ordinance would not apply to any scrap processor, automotive recycler or junkyard that deals principally in industrial scrap or to retail merchants who repossess their own merchandise sold on a title-retaining contact or who accept merchandise as a partial payment on new sales. The ordinance also would not apply to licensed automobile dealers, art dealers, resellers whose main business is selling used clothing or to people who conduct rummage or household garage sales, provided that those sales are not conducted by the same person or at the same location for more than six days or more than twice in one calendar year.

DeWitt said he estimates more than 20 local secondhand dealers would be required to get a license if the proposal is approved by the full board.

“I am all for this ordinance,” said Commissioner John Johansen of Montcalm Township. “We need to make this happen.”

“I think this is important,” agreed Commissioner Betty Kellenberger of Carson City. “I think we’ll accomplish something good with this.”

If the ordinance is approved, all secondhand dealers in Montcalm County would be required to enroll in the program. Secondhand dealers would be responsible for equipment and Internet service costs. Secondhand dealers would have to hold any secondhand goods received for 10 business days before releasing them in any manner. Secondhand dealers would also have to report on a daily basis the receipt of secondhand goods and must make an electronic report to the approved private vendor within 24 hours of receiving secondhand goods.

The electronic report would have to contain following information:

• A digital photograph of the article(s) and an accurate description of the article, along with serial number, make, model, number, size and color (if applicable).

• The purchase or loan price, ticket number and location.

• The secondhand dealer’s name and location.

• The name and digital photograph of the person conducting the transaction, including the operator’s number or state identification number or other federal identification number.

• The customer’s address, date of birth and physical description, including height, weight, hair color, race and gender.

• Electronic scanned fingerprint(s).

• Any other information required by local law enforcement agencies.

Any license under the new ordinance may be suspended or revoked after notice in writing, setting forth the substance of the charges and the time and place of a hearing. Cause for suspension may include:

• Conviction by the license holder of any felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.

• Any fraud, misrepresentation or false statement contained in the application for license or made in connection with the conduct of the licensed activity.

• Preventing or refusing permission for an inspection by a proper county agent or official at any reasonable time of any portion of the premises where the licensed activity is conducted or the property thereof.

• The doing or omitting of any act or permitting any condition to exist in connection with the licensed activity or upon any premises or facility used in connection therewith, which act, omission or condition constitutes a breach of the peace or a menace to the health, safety or general welfare of the public or is forbidden by the provisions of the ordinance or rule or regulation of the city or township or statues, rules or regulation of the state.

• The failure to obtain and maintain during the term of a license and any renewal or extension thereof any local, state or other required professional governmental license, certification or authority for the trade, occupation or profession licensed.

• The failure to obtain and maintain during the term of the license or any renewal or extension thereof the bonds and insurances required by any section of the ordinance or any other applicable law or regulation.

Penalties for violating any provisions of the ordinance would include a $500 fine for a first offense, plus cost of prosecution; a fine of not more than $1,000 and not more than 90 days in jail for a second offense, plus cost of prosecution; and a fine of not more than $1,000 and not more than 93 days in jail (a misdemeanor), plus cost of prosecution.

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