City Crackdown on Illegal ‘Cash for Gold’ Businesses

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CLEVELAND -- The city of Cleveland is cracking down on businesses that illegally buy and sell precious metals, like gold.

"You could go and sell your aunt or wife's or grandmother's precious metals down at the neighborhood auto repair shop or mobile phone store," said Cleveland city Councilman Jay Westbrook.

He explained the "Precious Metals Dealer Law," passed by his colleagues Monday night, cracking down on unlicensed businesses that pay cash for metals, like gold.

"At an unlicensed place, I gotta believe they're not checking IDs. They're not taking any identification. They're not holding anything for any period of time. So therefore they're buying it. They're fencing the jewelry. They're fencing jewelry and it's illegal," said Evan Dewitt, who has owned Dewitt Diamond and Gold Exchange in Colonial Marketplace on Euclid Avenue for 32 years.

He supports the new law that requires "cash for gold" businesses to maintain a license with the state of Ohio and register with the city of Cleveland.

"We take identification. We hold our jewelry for ‘X’ amount of days to go through clearance. We file all our purchases directly to the police department...our daily purchases and that's the correct protocol," Dewitt said.

Councilman Westbrook says he believes without regulation, it's too easy for criminals to steal jewelry and unload it for money, without being detected.

"With the rise of heroin addiction in the city and in the cities across the country, that the break-in of homes and theft of jewelry and precious metals from private homes has become an epidemic proportion," Westbrook said.

"Somebody who has goods that they stole, they aren't gonna give their own ID. So they won't come to a place like this. It'll be a better atmosphere all the way around, across the board," said Dewitt.

Any business that violates the law could face a third degree misdemeanor charge on a first offense. That’s up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.

A third offense or more would be considered a first degree misdemeanor, which is up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.