FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Houston, TX - On Wednesday, February 6, 2013, Houston City Council is positioned to pass an amendment to Chapter 7.88 of the City of Houston's Code of Ordinances which will impose outrageous requirements on the Precious Metals Buyers Industry, beyond that mandated by the State of Texas. These new requirements will do nothing to fight crime but will effectively shut-down the Industry in Houston.
The State of Texas already regulates the Precious Metals Buyers Industry. The City Code is being updated to include the more than two dozen State requirements:
- ... a transaction report form for each transaction... preprinted and pre-numbered...
- The full name of the seller...
- A physical description of the seller to include date of birth, height, eye color, and gender
- The physical address where the seller is residing at the time of the transaction
- The seller's driver's license number or personal identification number...
- A description of the crafted precious metal purchased by the dealer...
- Type, color and purity of each kind of metal purchased (e.g., 10 karat white gold, 0.925 sterling silver)
- Weight in troy ounces, grams, or pennyweights for each kind of metal
- Amount paid by the dealer for each kind of metal
- The total amount paid to the seller by the dealer
(To see full list, click here, http://www.houstontx.gov/citysec/backup/2013/020513.pdf and scroll to page 117.)
The State of Texas requires a "record"-written or electronic-of transactions involving precious metals and violations are met with proportionate fines or license revocation. Under the City's proposal, violations, intentional or by human error, will result in misdemeanor charges and possible imprisonment.
Businesses should be encouraged to thrive, not be set up for failure. The code, as amended, goes far beyond the state requirements and the new harsher penalty. The proposed new City mandates include the following four major mandates:
- A record of each transaction must be kept in a web-based database
- Records must be submitted daily [State allows 48 hours]
- A clear digital photograph of the seller
- A clear thumbprint from the seller
Burglary of Precious Metals is a crime that is hard to fight and solve in Houston. Most precious metal stolen in Houston is recovered outside Houston www.star-telegram.com/2011/12/11/3585949/suspect-in-jewel-heist-proclaims.html. The quantity of precious metals stolen in Houston has declined over the years, even as the price of precious metals has risen. Regardless of an increase or decrease in the number of instances of precious metals thefts, having the Industry mug-shot and thumbprint their customers will not prevent crime or catch criminals but will only serve to drive both customers and thieves out of Houston or into pawnshops. Most transactions (99.999%) are legit and Industry customers include individuals whose names are plastered across government buildings. It is disrespectful for us to even think of asking law abiding citizens to submit to these new mandates in order to sell their goods.
Council Member Helena Brown has been visiting with the Industry and their customers. "No precious metals thief is going to agree to a mug-shot and thumbprint," she stated. "That's like declaring that the thieves are going to be turning themselves in. It's ludicrous. I don't know who told HPD that this is going to help them. It's not going to help anyone, but rather it will be damaging to an industry and to our self-respect and liberty."
The Industry is already well-regulated, crime of this kind is down, the thieves will not submit to this, the customers will not submit to this, the Industry cannot comply to same-day deadlines especially in peak seasons, the Industry cannot ask their customers for a mugshot and thumbprint, the Industry will suffer through loss of their customer base and through fines and criminal charges, there will be layoffs and store closings, City sales revenues will suffer, the citizens' privacy will be violated, and a web-based electronic database could lead to higher crime through information leaks or hacking.