Proposed ordinance in the works to nab thieves in Rapid City - KOTA Territory News

Proposed ordinance in the works to nab thieves in Rapid City

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Some coin and jewelry thieves in Rapid City have been getting away with their crimes because of a city ordinance change four years ago. In 2009, Rapid City council members put the kibosh on an ordinance that required people trading in jewelry to a precious gem dealer to show an ID or make a record of the transaction.  Since there is no record of a transaction, it's easy for criminals to fence coins and jewelry without a trace.  Now, after an outcry from one very vocal victim, city leaders are working to re-do the ordinance.

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More than a year ago, a thief broke into a Chapel Valley home and stole more than $5,000 worth of jewelry. The victim, Chris Harding, did some digging and he caught a lucky break. "I had gone to the jeweler that I had purchased the item from and he had recalled resizing a similar ring to what I had stolen from my property for a coin dealer," Harding said.


While Harding did find his jewelry, the shop had no record of the transaction because they weren't required to keep one. "I was dumbfounded at how this could actually be legal," Harding continued.

 

While pawn shop owners are required to not only get identification from the person pawning goods, they're also required to photograph every piece of property, send those photos to police and hang onto them for a specified amount of time. As a result of the ordinance change in 2009, precious gem dealers aren't required to do that.


Mayor Kooiker says at the time throwing out the ordinance made sense. He says out-of-town metal dealers were coming to town for a day - setting up shop and making tons of money - while local dealers were required to be licensed and go through more red tape to do business.
"Because of the unfair treatment we threw out the whole ordinance but now we realize that went too far the other direction," Kooiker said. "Now we're bringing back an ordinance that is more reasonable," He continued.


Rapid City Chief of Police Steve Allender says since the value of gold is rising, so are gold thefts.
He's hoping an ordinance change will make it easier for investigators to nab thieves and even the playing field between precious gem dealers and pawn shops. "We will have a lot better handle on the property going into those businesses," Allender said.

Luckily, the store did have surveillance video so investigators were able to find and arrest the man who broke into Harding's home.


Harding says his only frustration now is that it's taking such a long time for City Hall to get the new ordinance in place after several delays. The Legal and Finance Committee will discuss the ordinance next week.

 
Chris Johnson, the owner of the Clock Shop, says he is in favor of the changes. The only part he is not happy about is the waiting period for gold and silver bullion.  He says the price fluctuates too much and a waiting period could make it tough for him to recoup his costs.

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