After requesting another stakeholders meeting and revisions in the proposed language, the Sarasota County Commission Tuesday voted unanimously to hold a public hearing Dec. 13 on a new ordinance covering the sale and purchase of ferrous, non-ferrous and precious metals.
Commissioner Christine Robinson told Wayne Applebee, the county’s criminal justice policy coordinator, and Det. Dan Valentino of the Sheriff’s Office that she believed the ordinance needed to spell out exemptions regarding secondhand dealers.
“I want to make sure we still allow for church flea markets” and other entities, such as Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore businesses, which sell surplus building supplies at prices below retail, Robinson said.
Commissioner Joe Barbetta agreed. “We’re looking at unintended consequences,” he said.
Valentino explained that the process of developing the revised ordinance began about a year ago, when law enforcement officers began linking an increasing number of jewelry and metals thefts to subsequent sales involving secondhand dealers. He linked those thefts to the need to support illegal drug habits.
“Rising market prices (for metals),” he said, “have had a marked effect on the number of burglaries and thefts,” along with damage to utilities, businesses and homes.
The county has 156 secondhand dealers that buy jewelry and metals, Valentino said. That figure compares to 194 pharmacies in the county. The most recent figures, he added, showed personal and commercial losses to such thefts totaling $5.1 million in the county. Going back to 2009, he said, that figure added up to about $12 million.
When Robinson referred to the section of the ordinance regarding exemptions for secondhand dealers, she noted it referenced the state ordinance without offering specifics. “I just want to make sure we’re not going overly broad on this,” she said.
“We can certainly put the language for exemptions back in there,” Assistant County Attorney David Pearce told Robinson.
Pearce also pointed out that the proposed ordinance no longer included rare coin dealers in its new restrictions.
Numerous dealers had complained that the proposed new requirement that they hold onto any coins they bought for a minimum of 30 days would tie up so much money in inventory that they would be forced out of business.
Commission Chairwoman Nora Patterson also complained about the inclusion of DVD and CD resellers in the restrictions for secondhand businesses.
“I buy used DVDs all the time,” Robinson said. “I also sell ’em back to stores.”
When Patterson then suggested it might be premature to advertise the public hearing on the ordinance for Nov. 9, the original date requested, Applebee told her he would make sure another workshop was held with the stakeholders.