[HISTORY: Adopted by the Municipal Council of the Municipality of Norristown 3-3-2015 by Ord. No. 15-03. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Junkyards — See Ch. 194.
Editor's Note: This chapter was originally adopted as Ch. 236 but was renumbered to fit the alphabetic sequence of the Code.
By establishment of this chapter, the Municipality of Norristown desires to promote the safety, morals and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Municipality of Norristown in their person and property by holding pawnbrokers and dealers in precious metals, antiques and secondhand goods accountable for the proper reporting procedures deemed necessary by the Municipality and the Police Department to assist in recovering the stolen property of its inhabitants.
In interpreting and applying the provisions of this chapter, minimum requirements for the promotion of the public safety, comfort, convenience, and general welfare shall be followed. Where the provisions of this chapter impose greater restrictions than those of any statute, other ordinance or regulations, the provisions of this chapter shall be controlling. Where the provisions of any statute, other ordinance or regulation impose greater restrictions than this chapter, the provisions of such statute, other ordinance or regulation shall be controlling.
This chapter shall not affect persons and entities selling items covered by this chapter which have been purchased from dealers, manufacturers or wholesalers who are normally in the business of manufacturing and/or selling said items. However, this chapter is applicable to those persons or entities purchasing the aforesaid items from the general public for resale or use. This chapter shall not apply to the sale of goods, wares and merchandise, the proceeds of which are to be applied to or on behalf of any entity organized for charitable, religious, educational or philanthropic purposes or a civic service organization or its sponsoring organization. This chapter shall not apply to persons selling or purchasing items at garage sales or yard sales. This chapter shall not apply to a wireless service provider, or agents or retailers whose business involves the sale and activation of electronic devices on the wireless network or conducting transactions involving the trade-in of an electronic device when the trade-in value, if any, is applied as a credit on the customer's account or in a form of credit or a gift card that may only be redeemed with the wireless provider or its agent or retailer.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- A pawnbroker, precious metals dealer, antique dealer and/or secondhand dealer.
- GOVERNMENT IDENTIFICATION
- A valid identification document issued by a state or federal government, containing a photograph and identifying data, such as name, date of birth, gender, physical description and current address of the person bearing the card; a valid passport; or a valid alien registration card containing a photograph.
- INDIVIDUALLY IDENTIFIABLE ARTICLES
- An article that is individually identifiable by a serial number; or other applied numbers, letters, characters or markings; or other unique features that serve to distinguish it from any other similar article and which can be used to establish ownership of the article.
- Manufactured articles or parts that have been discarded and are useful only as material for reprocessing or recycling.
- JUNK/SCRAP COLLECTION VEHICLE
- A motor vehicle used for the pick-up or transportation of junk/scrap material.
- The owner, operator, and all employees of a business licensed under this chapter.
- Any person under the age of 18.
- An individual, partnership, association, corporation, or other business entity, including an itinerant merchant, doing business in the Municipality of Norristown that lends money in exchange for personal property deposited by a pledger as security that can be sold if the loan is not repaid within a specified period, and/or engages in purchase and resale of any merchandise from a pledger or seller.
- An article and/or articles deposited with a pawnbroker as security for a loan or currency, in the course of his/her business as defined in the definition of "pawnbroker."
- The person who obtains the loan from a pawnbroker and delivers a pledge into the possession of a pawnbroker, unless such person discloses that he/she is or was acting for another, in which case a "pledger" means the disclosed principal.
- PRECIOUS METAL
- An item containing or being of ten-carat gold or greater fineness, silver or platinum, including, but not limited to, jewelry or silver services.
- PRECIOUS METALS DEALER
- An individual, partnership, association, corporation or other business entity, including an itinerant merchant, doing business in the Municipality of Norristown that purchases or makes appraisals of precious metals and their alloys for resale to refiners, brokers, or the public.
- SECONDHAND DEALER OR ANTIQUE DEALER
- An individual, partnership, association, corporation or other business entity, including an itinerant merchant, doing business in the Municipality of Norristown that purchases or makes appraisals of secondhand or used goods for resale or refining, or an individual who acts as an agent for such individual, partnership, association, corporation or other business organization entity. However, persons selling personal property belonging to them or family members on a temporary basis from their own residential property in the form of a "garage sale" or "yard sale" shall not be considered to be a secondhand dealer under this chapter, shall not be required to obtain a secondhand dealer's license to engage in such activity, and are exempt from the reporting requirements otherwise required by this chapter.
- SECONDHAND OR USED GOOD
- An individually identifiable article that is being purchased by or otherwise transferred to a second or later end user.
- The person who obtains payment from a dealer in return for the sale or pawn of any merchandise to the dealer.
- A purchase, sale or loan made by any dealer.
- WORKING DAYS
- A day on which business is done, exclusive of holidays.
License. No person shall act as a dealer unless he or she has obtained a license from the Municipality of Norristown for each location from which that person seeks to act as a pawnbroker. Said license shall be prominently displayed so that it is easily visible to members of the public.
Registration. No person shall act as a dealer unless he or she pays an annual registration license fee, to be set from time to time by resolution of the Municipal Council.
Pawnbroker's license. No license to act as a pawnbroker shall be issued by the Municipality of Norristown unless the applicant has been licensed first by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as required by the Act of April 6, 1937 (P.L. 200, No. 30), 63 P.S. §§ 281-1 — 281-32, as amended.
Dealer in precious metals license. No license to act as a dealer in precious metals shall be issued by the Municipality of Norristown unless the applicant obtains a license from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as required by the Act of February 24, 1984 (P.L. 92, No. 17), 73 P.S. §§ 1931-1942, as amended.
Throughout the term of the license, every pawnbroker or dealer shall report/upload to the Municipality's current electronic reporting system the information listed below for each and every transaction conducted during each day said pawnbroker or dealer is open for business, no later than the end of that business day. All information shall be recorded in the English language.
A transaction shall consist of all articles brought into a pawnbroker or dealer for sale, barter, trade, pledge or pawn by an individual (pledger/seller) at the same time and date, and includes the sale of non-junk/scrap articles purchased by a pawnbroker or dealer to another person. Non-junk/scrap articles purchased by a pawnbroker or dealer from another business shall not be considered to be transactions for the purpose of this section, and are exempt from the reporting requirements of this section, and are also exempt from the holding period established under § 227-9 of this chapter. Articles presented to a pawnbroker or dealer by an individual (pledger/seller) for sale, barter, trade, pledge or pawn at different times on the same date by the same person shall be considered as separate transactions, regardless of how short the difference in time is between those transactions. Separate transactions, either from the same person or different persons, shall not be combined and reported collectively.
Non-junk/scrap articles other than coins and paper money.
Purchases/receipts by licensees.
All such articles sold, bartered, traded, pledged or pawned to a pawnbroker or dealer by an individual (pledger/seller) during a transaction shall be associated with the person (pledger/seller) who brought the article(s) in. The licensee shall record/report the following information for each transaction:
A digital photographic or scanned image of a photo ID card of the pledger/seller, sufficiently clear to allow the information on the ID to be read. The photo ID must be a currently valid (not expired) card issued by a government entity and must include the pledger/seller's first and last name, current address, date of birth, and physical descriptors.
The date and time of the transaction.
Descriptions/photographs of articles.
Individually identifiable articles:
Each individually identifiable non-junk/scrap article presented to a pawnbroker or dealer by an individual (pledger/seller) for sale, barter, trade, pledge or pawn during a single transaction shall be itemized separately. Licensees shall not describe such articles collectively (e.g., "five gold monogrammed rings"), but must provide a complete and thorough description of each item, to include the following:
A digital photograph(s) shall be taken of each individually identifiable article, sufficiently detailed to allow reasonable identification of the article. The digital photograph(s) shall capture any identifying numbers, marks, writing, engraving, etc., or any other distinguishing characteristics.
Articles that cannot be distinguished from any other similar articles may be described in groups of similar types of articles, but only within the same transaction made by the same pledger/seller. Licensees shall provide reasonable descriptions of the number and types of items within each group to enable the Police Department to determine if they may have been stolen during a particular crime. Example: An individual pledger/seller brings in a video game controller, five video game discs, and numerous items of jewelry. The licensee shall first individually itemize and photograph the video game controller as outlined in "individually identifiable articles" above, as it would be a serially numbered item. For the remaining items, the licensee shall not list them as "miscellaneous video games and jewelry." Instead, the licensee shall describe them as follows: "five video game discs, to include the following titles. . ." and "miscellaneous jewelry, to include two yellow gold necklaces, one silver necklace, two pairs of silver earrings, one women's yellow gold ring, one women's white gold diamond ring and two silver bracelets."
A digital photograph(s) shall be taken of each group of similar types of articles within each transaction made by the same pledger/seller. The articles may be photographed together as a group, but each individual article shall be visible in the photograph. For example, given the circumstances outlined in Subsection B(1)(a)[b][i] above, the five video game discs would be photographed together as a group side by side (not stacked on top of each other), and the jewelry items would be photographed together as a group with each item laid out so as to be individually viewable (not piled together).
Sales by licensees.
In order to facilitate the return of stolen items to their rightful owners, individually identifiable non-junk/scrap articles sold by a pawnbroker or dealer to an individual shall be reported to the Municipality's current electronic reporting system. Licensees shall individually itemize and describe each identifiable article sold.
Each individually identifiable non-junk/scrap article sold by a pawnbroker or dealer shall be associated with the person to whom it was sold. The licensee shall record/report the following information for each such transaction:
Purchases by licensees.
Junk/scrap articles may be recorded/reported in bulk but must specify the weight, type (e.g., steel, copper, aluminum, etc.) and form (e.g. sheet, pipe, wire, etc.) of the bulk material.
Each different type and form of junk/scrap bulk material brought into a dealer by an individual for sale during a transaction shall be associated with the person who brought the material in. Licensees shall record/report the following information for each such transaction:
A photographic or scanned image of a photo ID card of the pledger/seller, sufficiently clear to allow the information on the ID to be read. The photo ID must be a currently valid (not expired) card issued by a government entity of the United States and must include the pledger/seller's first and last name, current address, date of birth, and physical descriptors.
If the pledger/seller is selling on behalf of a company or business, the name, address, and telephone number of such company or business shall also be recorded/reported.
If the junk/scrap is brought by motor vehicle to a licensee for sale, the make, model, color, and license plate number of that vehicle shall be recorded/reported.
The date and time of the transaction.
A digital photograph or, if the licensee has a video system, video segment of each individual type and form of bulk material purchased by the licensee shall be linked to the record of that transaction.
Coins and paper money.
Purchases/receipts by licensees.
Coins have no distinguishing characteristics that separate them from other coins of the same mintage; and although paper money is serial-numbered, those serial numbers are so seldom known by their last possessor that paper money is effectively indistinguishable from other paper money of the same denomination. Furthermore, unlike coins made of precious metals, paper money seldom carries any value significantly beyond the face value of the bill, and when stolen is usually used directly as cash and not sold to a currency dealer. Accordingly, coins or paper money brought in by an individual (pledger/seller) for sale, barter, trade, pledge or pawn during a single transaction do not need to be itemized individually but rather may be recorded/reported in bulk.
Coins or paper money brought into a pawnbroker or dealer by an individual (pledger/seller) for sale, barter, trade, pledge or pawn during a transaction shall be associated with the person (pledger/seller) who brought the article in. The licensee shall record/report the following information for each such transaction:
A digital photo or scanned image of a current government identification issued to the pledger/seller.
The date and time of the transaction.
The quantities and types of coins or paper money presented. If coins are all of the same type, they shall be reported by either quantity or weight, and type (e.g., five Morgan silver dollars, 25 buffalo nickels, five pounds of wheat pennies, etc.). If coins are from a collection, a description of the theme of the collection (e.g., Bicentennial coins, state quarters, etc.) along with the number of coins shall be provided. If coins represent an accumulation of disparate coins with no overall theme, a generic description of the type and quantity of coins shall be provided (e.g., approximately 200 U.S. coins of miscellaneous dates and denominations, approximately 100 foreign coins from various countries, etc.). Paper money shall be reported by quantity and type (e.g., 25 U.S. $5 silver certificates, etc.). Photos of the coins and paper money shall be required.
In the event the electronic reporting system malfunctions or is otherwise not operational, the licensee shall, at all times during such malfunction or nonoperation, be required to keep written records of any and all transactions made during the period of malfunction or nonoperation, to include all information required by this section. These written records shall be reported/uploaded to LeadsOnline, or the Municipality's current electronic reporting system, as soon as practicable after the electronic reporting system is functional. No such written records shall be erased, mutilated or changed. Written records shall be open and available for review upon request by law enforcement agencies during regular business hours.
A dealer may seize any item offered in a sale or pledge which he/she has reason to believe is stolen property. The dealer shall issue a seizure receipt to the person presenting such property in pledge or sale. The seizure receipt shall include a photocopy of the pledger/seller's government identification and an accurate physical description of the pledger/seller. The dealer shall immediately deliver such seized property, together with a copy of the seizure receipt, to the Norristown Police Department.
Responsibility of the municipality of Norristown.
The Norristown Police Department shall enter into an agreement with an online entity which operates an electronic database for law enforcement agencies for the purpose of identifying stolen merchandise and persons suspected of thefts.
The entity chosen by the Norristown Police Department to administer the electronic inventory tracking system shall ensure that all data remain secure and confidential by providing to each dealer login security protocols which meet current industry standards and shall employ state-of-the-art technology to protect the data from all forms of unauthorized access and malicious intrusion.
Responsibility of dealer.
Each dealer doing business in the Municipality of Norristown shall, within 30 days of the adoption of this chapter, maintain an electronic inventory tracking system which is capable of securely and confidentially uploading all transactions via computer to the entity designated by the Norristown Police Department.
All items shall be kept in unaltered condition, available for inspection by law enforcement officials in the course of their law enforcement duties, for 10 working days following a transaction by a dealer or a data upload as specified in § 227-6 above.
Law enforcement officials shall not require a search warrant to inspect the item, unless the inspection is made during hours other than regular business hours.
During the holding period, any item subject to the holding period shall be segregated from other inventory to ensure that it is not placed in an area or section where personal property and/or precious metals are offered for sale. Where any item is held off the premises, the dealer shall make the item available for inspection within 24 hours after receiving a request for inspection by law enforcement officials.
Any law enforcement official who has reason to believe any item was not sold or exchanged by the lawful owner may direct the dealer to hold the item for a reasonable length of time that the law enforcement official considers necessary to identify it.
All business transactions between dealers and minors are prohibited.
Fines. Any person and/or dealer who violates, fails, neglects or refuses to comply with any provision of this chapter shall pay a fine not exceeding $1,000 and costs and, in default of payment thereof, shall be subject to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 days. Each day that a violation of this chapter continues shall be considered a separate offense.
Dealer's license suspension. In addition to the fines specified in Subsection A above, a dealer who violates any provisions of this chapter shall have his license(s) suspended.
Suspension of pawnbroker's license.
If a pawnbroker's license is suspended, the Municipality of Norristown shall provide written notice of the suspension to the Secretary of Banking for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Secretary of Banking shall then conduct a hearing to ascertain if the pawnbroker's license shall be revoked.
If the Secretary of Banking for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania revokes the pawnbroker's license, the pawnbroker shall be prohibited from obtaining an operating license within the Municipality of Norristown for a period of five years following revocation by the commonwealth.
No operating license shall be issued when any pawnbroker's license has been revoked by the Secretary of Banking for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where the pawnbroker retains a property interest in the location where the operating license was suspended or the pawnbroker retains a pecuniary interest in the corporation or any affiliated business entities therein.
During any period of license suspension, the dealer shall cease operation at each and every location of the dealer's business.
Cease operations order.
The Municipality of Norristown shall issue a cease operations order for each business location operated by the dealer whose license(s) has/have been suspended in accordance with the Municipality of Norristown Code of Ordinances.
The cease operations order shall identify the prohibited operations and shall state that the applicable license has been suspended for violation(s) of this chapter.
No posted cease operations order shall be removed until the Norristown Police Department is satisfied that all suspended licenses have been restored, or the property interest in the location has changed so that neither the person or dealer under license suspension, nor any members of his immediate family, or in the case of a corporation, the corporation or any affiliated business entities, retains a pecuniary interest therein.
License at cease operations location.
No person or dealer shall be issued a license for a business location that has been posted with a cease operatiors order, as long as any person under a license suspension or revocation, or any member of that person's immediate family, or in the case of a corporation, the corporation or any affiliated business entities, retains a pecuniary interest in the property.