Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Statement to the Citizens of Ontario Regarding Pawnbrokers and Second-Hand Goods Stores

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The Pawnbrokers Act is outdated.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.

Idem
     (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 communities
as the senior police leaders in municipal, regional, provincial national, and
First Nations police services across Ontario

Please follow us on:

Twitter http://Twitter.com/OACPOfficial

Facebook http://Facebook.com/OACPOfficial

Look for our videos on YouTube http://Youtube.com/OACPOfficial

SOURCE Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police

For further information:

Joe Couto
Director of Government Relations & Communications
T. (416) 926-0424 ext. 22
C. (416) 919-9798
Emedia@oacp.ca

Organization Profile

Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police

More on this organization


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890