TORONTO, May 24, 2011 /CNW/ - For the past decade, the Ontario
Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) has advocated for new
legislation to address the shortcomings of the current law which
governs pawnbrokers in Ontario. Ontario's police leaders have worked
hard to convey to the law makers at Queen's Park the need for new
legislation to assist police in serving crime victims who wish to have
stolen property (which often winds up in pawnshops and second-hand
businesses) returned to their rightful owners.
Our advocacy efforts on this matter are informed by a strong belief that
as police leaders, we have a duty and responsibility to the citizens we
serve to do our utmost to address their safety needs. The current
legislation, the Pawnbrokers Act, is 100-years-old and does not adequately allow police personnel to do
their jobs on behalf of Ontarians.
The Pawnbrokers Act is outdated. During the past century since the Act was passed, our province has changed. Technology alone has made the
environment in which pawnshops operate quite different. In addition,
the current legislation does not cover second-hand goods businesses.
Despite the availability of technology which can record transactions
electronically, pawnshops are not required to keep electronic records
of transactions which would assist law enforcement personnel to
identify and possibly retrieve stolen merchandise and goods which often
find their way into such establishments.
Over the last few years, the OACP has attempted to address privacy
concerns related to an electronic database (which could be utilized by
police to reunite property owners with their property) through a
proposal for a system employing a "unique identifier". In addition, the
OACP provided a policing expert to work with Ministry of the Attorney
General officials in 2006 on a working group which produced a report
for the Attorney General on options for new legislation.
Despite our best efforts, we regret to inform the people of Ontario that
no progress has been made on this important public safety matter.
It should be noted that if police actually and literally enforced the
existing legislation, the entire pawnbroker business would likely shut
down to be compliant with the requirements of the Pawnbrokers Act. Compliance would be significantly onerous to owners of these businesses
(e.g., posting advertisements in newsletters, sending registered letter
to individuals who don't reclaim their items, informing police on a
daily basis of new merchandise received, etc. See the Addendum for examples of what the outdated Act actually says). Furthermore, this
does not even take into consideration the many "second hand dealers"
now common throughout the province. These businesses are currently not
covered under the Pawnbrokers Act.
The OACP has informed the Attorney General of Ontario that since the
ministry seems unable or unwilling to move forward with legislation,
the OACP has advised Chiefs of Police to review the resources they
commit to addressing the needs of victims in the area of property crime
(and their relation to pawnshops/second-hand businesses) and consider
advising those victims in their communities to seek remedy with their
personal and property insurance carriers as property recovery would no
longer be a policing priority.
Ontario's police leaders want to stress that our officers will
investigate property crimes with respect to the identification of the
perpetrator. However, in relation to pawnshops and second-hand goods
stores, our ability to recover stolen property is seriously hampered
without new legislation that reflects our 21st century realities. We also note that every police service will decide
how to address issues related to pawnbrokers and second-hand goods
stores in its jurisdiction.
We remain committed to serving you, the citizens of Ontario.
Some of the current provisions of the Pawnbrokers Act (legislation that is hopelessly outdated) include the following
provisions directed at business owners:
Inspection by police
15. Every police officer shall at all times be given access to and may
inspect a pawnbroker's books, papers and pledges, and when so engaged
may have with him or her such other persons as he or she considers
advisable. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.6, s. 15.
Where sum lent is more than $15 and not more than $30
21. (1)Where the sum lent upon a pledge is more than $15 but not more than
$30, the pawnbroker may at any time after it has been in pawn for at
least one year send to the pawner by first-class prepaid mail to the
address shown in the pawnbroker's book to be the address of the pawner
a notice identifying the transaction and stating that, unless the
pledge is redeemed within the fifteen days next after the day of
mailing the notice, it becomes the pawnbroker's absolute property.
(2) Any such pledge may be redeemed at any time within the fifteen
days next after the day of mailing the notice by tendering to the
pawnbroker the pawnticket, the sum borrowed and the lawful interest and
charges, and, if it is not so redeemed, it becomes the pawnbroker's
absolute property. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.6, s. 21.
Where sum lent is more than $30: notice by mail and newspaper
22. (1)Where the sum lent upon a pledge is more than $30, the pawnbroker may
at any time after it has been in pawn for at least one year send to the
pawner by first-class prepaid mail to the address shown by the
pawnbroker's book to be the address of the pawner a notice identifying
the transaction and stating that, unless the pledge is redeemed within
the fifteen days next after the day of mailing the notice, a final
notice will be published in a newspaper having general circulation in
the municipality in which the pawnbroker carries on business
identifying the transaction and stating that, unless the pledge is
redeemed within the fifteen days next after the day of publication of
the notice, it becomes the pawnbroker's absolute property.
Members of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police serve their
as the senior police leaders in municipal, regional, provincial
First Nations police services across Ontario
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SOURCE Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police
For further information:
Director of Government Relations & Communications
T. (416) 926-0424 ext. 22
C. (416) 919-9798