City Council approves bill regulating pawnshops' location Neighborhoods have said the shops attract crime

March 12, 1996|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

Pawnshop owners in Baltimore soon may need the permission of the City Council before setting up shop.

The City Council overwhelmingly approved yesterday a bill that restricts the locations of pawnshops, long the bane of neighborhood association members who complain that the shops are crime magnets. Pawnshops now can pop up in any area that is zoned for business.

But 5th District Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector said that the bill doesn't address the more important issue of helping police prevent the sale of stolen goods to second-hand dealers.

"I don't think it accomplishes what it set out to do for the neighborhood," Mrs. Spector said. "There are 400 second-hand dealers in Baltimore City who are not affected by this."

The bill, introduced by 2nd District Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge last year, deals only with the 45 pawnshops that the city allows to operate -- not the second-hand dealers who sell many of the same items sold by pawnshops. Second-hand dealers are less regulated and have come under fire, along with pawnshops, for selling stolen goods.

Richard D. Sussman, president of the Maryland Pawnbrokers Association, said he needed to review the council bill but thinks that his organization "would have no objection" to it.

For years, pawnshop owners have felt the wary eye of the council. In May 1994, the council approved a bill that limited to 45 the number of pawnshops allowed in the city. But the bill did not specify where the pawnshops could set up shop nor did it stop them from moving from area to area.

At least two business districts have pushed for legislation that would confine pawnshops along commercial strips. Despite vacancies, business associations in Waverly and Belair-Edison have said they do not want any pawnshops. TC Pub Date: 3/12/96

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