House Breaks Vs. In-home Business: RPD, Council Try to Balance Crime Fighting with Free Enterprise

December 22, 2011
By

Cherie and Rick Meade of Barrett street display an empty jewelry box and an empty money pouch – both of which were emptied dur¬ing a housebreak at their apartment last Thursday. Cherie said most of what was taken was meaningful rather than expensive – things from her wedding and money that was to be used for Christmas. Revere police are trying to stop such property crimes with a newly passed ordinance regulating second-hand jewelry buyers.

Rick and Cherie Meade were still laughing when they returned to their Barrett Street apartment last Thursday after seeing a movie and doing a little Christmas shopping.

The laughter didn’t last long, though.

“I saw the door busted open and the Christmas decorations that were hung on the door were lying on the ground,” said Cherie during an interview with the Journal on Monday. “I knew something was wrong immediately. It was scary.”

After taking in a movie Thursday afternoon, the couple said they returned around 8:30 p.m. to find that they’d been robbed. The thieves didn’t touch the medications in the kitchen of the disabled couple’s home, nor did they go after the television or the packages under the small Christmas tree.

Whoever it was went straight for the jewelry box, and committed an all-too-common crime that the City and the Revere Police are trying to curb with a new ordinance passed on Monday night.

“They went through the kitchen and the dining room and right to our bedroom,” said Cherie. “I saw some things on my night table moved around and I knew I had left my jewelry box opened and it was closed. When I opened it, everything was gone. I had a lot of bracelets in there. I had a sapphire Millennium ring in there, a gold cross and necklace my Dad had given me and the earrings my friends from church gave me for my wedding. Everything in there really meant something to me, but nothing was really all that expensive.”

Additionally, the Meades said that the thieves found a pouch full of cash that they had hidden and were going to use to buy Christmas presents.

That was missing too.

Other than that, the only thing else out of place was the couple’s peace of mind.

“I feel vandalized,” said Cherie. “It’s too much for me. I didn’t go to church on Sunday because I was just too worried. And now I can’t put on any earrings for Christmas because now I have no earrings left.”

Said her husband Rick, making the best of a bad situation, “She’s a jewel without any jewels.”

Such crimes are no laughing matter, though, for Revere Police – who say breaks are on the rise and they are trying to stop these breaks by regulating second-hand metal dealers. Those businesses, such as gold buying jewelry stores located throughout the city, have been kind of skittish of the regulations, though.

Not long ago, the Revere Police Command Staff put out a plan to reduce property crime – just such the crime that happened last Thursday to the Meades.

In that plan, it stated, “The first goal of this plan is to reduce the rewards associated with these crimes by disrupting the market of stolen goods. Disrupting the market of stolen goods can be accomplished by the simple implementation of a model ordinance other cities have implemented.”

On Dec. 12, the City Council held a public hearing on the matter and got mixed reviews.

The basics of the ordinance is that it called for upping the hold period for purchased jewelry from the current seven-day period to somewhere between 15 and 30 days. It also called for photographing every purchased item, and also issuing daily electronic buying reports (with photos) to the police for tracking potentially stolen items.

It was pointed out by police that Chelsea, Lynn and Everett have 30-day hold periods, while Malden has a 15-day period.

“If you can reduce the rewards, you can reduce the crime,” said Capt. Dennis Collyer at the public hearing. “Second hand dealers provide these unscrupulous characters with a quick score of cash…The second hand dealers, much of their business is legitimate. Make no doubt about it, though, they all buy stolen jewelry at one time or another.”

Chief Terence Reardon said the problem stems from drug abuse, and drug users that are desperately in need of cash to get high.

“When these thieves know they have an easy marketplace for these stolen items, they will do this expeditiously because all they are trying to do is get a needle in their arm as fast as they can steal,” he said.

Meanwhile, one jeweler on Broadway, Tom Yourawski of the Jewelry Box, said the new regulations are too restrictive, they cause an undue burden with the computer requirements and they also would make him keep piles of jewelry in his store.

“It’s like the Wild West over here on Broadway, so the last thing I want to do is have to keep a bunch of jewelry in my store and have to tell people on TV right now that I have it there,” Yourawski told the Council. “It just gives me more risk and more exposure to something bad happening. Every time someone rings my buzzer that I don’t know, I am suspicious because I don’t know if they just robbed the bank and now they’re going to rob me. It’s way too expensive and way too dangerous for me to keep this in there for that long. They rob McDonald’s now because somebody says there is money put in the safe. What are they going to do to the jewelry store? This ordinance needs to be re-written into more of a family and business-friendly ordinance.”

While police admitted that Yourawski isn’t exactly the kind of second hand dealer they’re going after, they did say that the requirements would be good for everyone.

City Councillors agreed with police and enacted the ordinance as-is with a 15-day waiting period this past Monday night.

Some councillors were a bit hesitant to enact stiff regulations on local businesses, but in the end it was protecting the property and peace of mind for residents like the Meades that won out.

“My issue here is that this is happening Revere residents and drug dealers are going into their houses and taking their possessions,” said Ward 1 Councillor Richard Penta. “If there is a chance they will get that back – even one possession – I’m for that…The main objective here is to stop these junkies that break into houses during the day and steal people’s jewelry and then go sell it. We have to protect people.

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