Property Crime Reduction Laws Announced by Councilmember Harrell

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Property Crime Reduction Laws Announced by Councilmember Harrell

SeattleCouncilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee, announced three new policy proposals to help address property crime in Seattle. The proposed laws would make the following amendments to sections 6.288.050, 6.288.070 and 6.288.085 of the Seattle Municipal Code:

  1. Require a clear digital photograph of jewelry exchanged at pawnshops and used goods dealers. This is in addition to the already-required documentation of the identity of the seller. Current law does not require a photograph.
  2. Require report of jewelry transactions for all used goods dealers into a central database. An example is LeadsOnline, an online tool used by law enforcement and businesses to assist with solving crimes.
  3. Require that payment to sellers of cellphones and tablets at pawnshops and used goods dealers be made through a check, as opposed to cash.

“Let’s use technology to do a better job of investigating and solving crimes,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “We can do a better job of recovering stolen property and as we move forward, I fully intend to collaboratively engage with business stakeholders to balance public safety with the business operations of used goods dealers.”

In addition, Councilmember Harrell will work with the City Attorney’s office to reexamine the penalties of noncompliance with the “No Buy List.” The police department maintains a “No Buy List,” which includes the names of 2,946 criminals previously convicted of property crimes who are prohibited from selling items to used goods dealers. SPD sends the “No Buy List” to Seattle area pawn shops and used goods dealers.

These proposals are part of a focused strategy with the Seattle Police Department to reduce property crimes. SPD presented data for burglaries and auto thefts yesterday with a strategy to focus on problem locations and prolific offenders. From October to November, auto thefts decreased 34 percent and car prowls decreased 25 percent.
Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole has already assigned a member of the high-tech SPD team to help patrol officers track down stolen phones.

“The needle has moved but we must do more by relentlessly following up and assessing our methods to reduce crime,” said Councilmember Bruce A. Harrell. “I recognize that there is not one law or set of new laws that serves as a panacea to eliminate all property crime in our city. There must be overlapping strategies to address and reduce these crimes.”

Councilmember Harrell is also exploring a proposal to use GPS trackers on vehicles used in connection with home invasions as a condition of release from jail. Similar to the use of electronic home monitoring equipment and restrictions on driving privileges for drivers who drove impaired, a GPS system may enforce a no contact policy with that vehicle to the neighborhood where the home invasion or other property crime occurred. Elements of this proposal would require a change to existing SMC or RCW or both. This will require coordination with the King County Prosecutor’s office regarding logistics of implementation.

“We have to do something about these problems because I get tired of hearing we can’t do this, or we can’t do that,” Councilmember Harrell added. “I am working with our prosecutors to develop new ideas to be more aggressive on these home invasions. This is what the public demands.”

Councilmember Harrell will continue vetting these proposals with the community and the City’s law department. The expectation is to return to committee with legislation in early 2015.

[View in Council Newsroom]