City officials are working to curb the fencing of stolen items by expanding regulations on pawn shops to include secondhand stores.
Tulsa Police Department officials told city councilors Thursday that secondhand stores are a loophole for thieves who have learned not to sell items to pawn shops because of a legal requirement to track the items being bought and sold.
Councilor G.T. Bynum said the loophole came to his attention after he talked to police about a family member whose house was burglarized recently.
"They never found the stuff," Bynum said about items including jewelry, clothing and electronics. " 'We rarely find the stuff,' they said."
Tulsa Police Sgt. Shellie Seibert said pawn shops are being avoided by fencers because of laws that she said could be applied to secondhand shops.
Pawn shops must track whom they buy from and sell to, and that information is made available to the police.
The law has been in effect since 1988, and Tulsa police in 2009 updated their tracking software, a move that has greatly improved their ability to find stolen items.
"Suspects know that if they go to a pawn shop, they are going to record that," Seibert said.
Secondhand shops identified by Tulsa police include video gaming stores, computer and electronics stores, tool stores, sports stores and music stores.
Councilors agreed to start work on a draft for an ordinance that would address the loophole.
Suggestions include city licensing, customer tracking, reporting of items, timeframe for holding items before reselling, declarations of ownership and accountability for store personnel.
Officials also recommended using a transaction fee-based system to fund the operation of an ordinance.
A proposed ordinance to regulate garage sales is being worked on, and Seibert said flea-market sales are a separate problem.
"That's its own monster," she said. "We're probably going to need something different for that."
Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367