Ordinance targets ‘cash for gold’ sites

Staff Writer

PLUMSTED — With a recent surge in the price of gold and an economy that is forcing some people to sell their gold for cash, stores that pay immediate cash for gold have opened in many places.

In response to the startup of the cash-forgold businesses, officials in some municipalities have sought to enact regulations targeting those operations.

Now you can add Plumsted to that list.

At the Dec. 7 meeting of the Township Committee, members of the governing body introduced an ordinance that will establish regulations at local cash-for-gold operations.

The ordinance is scheduled for a second reading, public hearing and possible vote for adoption on Dec. 28. Any resident or business owner who would like to speak about the ordinance may do so that evening.

“In the financial throes we are in right now and as a reflection of the economic times, we have seen a lot of these storefront businesses popping up,” Mayor Ron Dancer said .

The ordinance, which Dancer said aims to regulate, not prohibit, cash-for-gold businesses, establishes a set of practices similar to what other towns have enacted.

“This ordinance is similar to an ordinance that was introduced in Allentown. In Ocean County, Plumsted is one of the few towns that does not have one of these ordinances,” the mayor said. “The state Division of Consumer Affairs has no local enforcement if there is no ordinance in place.”

By law, the Division of Consumer Affairs and its Department of Weights and Measures routinely perform evaluations of establishments like pawn shops and cashfor gold operations to make certain that the scales being used to measure how much gold is being processed are properly calibrated.

Any tampering with the scales could have a significant impact on how much money a customer receives for the gold he or she is selling.

“There are inspections and certifications that are required by this ordinance,” Dancer said .

According to the ordinance, anyone planning to start a cash-for-gold operation would have to apply for a license, submit to a police background check, keep and maintain records of each transaction, and hold items that were purchased for seven days before reselling them.

Each measure, Dancer said, is to make certain that each transaction remains lawful.

“There are some unscrupulous individuals taking stolen jewelry and cashing it in. With the proper record keeping, permitting process and background check, this is a necessary tool for our law enforcement,” the mayor said.

Committeeman Jack Trotta wondered aloud about the scope of the ordinance.

“There was a table [at a recent local holiday event] where people were buying gold. They were just there for a day. There are also parties [in homes] where people sell gold. Will this [ordinance] force those people to get permits, and if so, how will they know to do so?” Trotta asked.