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Second-hand stores handed second option

POULSBO — Second-hand and pawn store owners who felt they were being singled out by the Poulsbo Police Department last month are feeling something they didn’t anticipate so soon: relief.

In abrupt fashion in April, 22 businesses were informed that, starting May 10, pawn brokers and second-hand dealers would be required to report all transactions in excess of $20 from the previous week to the PPD. Although the undated letters noted that the reports would help curtail trafficking of stolen property, the clear emphasis of the sample transaction form provided was on firearms. Under the request for business name, date, transaction amount and item description is a bevy of options that directly relate to guns: pistol, barrel length, pump, rifle, shotgun, revolver, singe shot, semi-automatic, caliber/gauge and others are defined.

Tim Bodner, who has owned Hiding Place Antiques with his wife JoAnne for the past five years, said many business owners he talked to were initially outraged by the proposed requirement.

“We don’t even sell guns,” Bodner said, noting that the only “pistols” he had in the store were toys.

In response, several owners contacted Police Chief Jeff Doran, who signed the letter, and Mayor Donna Jean Bruce to air their concerns.

The result was a second letter from Doran dated April 28 that announced because many of the stores in question lacked the means of reporting the information without adversely impacting their businesses the program would be delayed and public discussions would ensue.

“Our goal in instituting this crime prevention program was to make it harder for crooks to sell stolen property and profit from their crimes,” Doran stated. “It was not our intent to penalize or damage honest merchants who are doing business and paying taxes in the city ... we will not begin enforcing the law that requires mandatory reporting until you are notified otherwise.”

Bodner said the writing style between the first and second letter was different as night and day. So was his reaction to each.

Nonetheless, he was still “steaming under the collar” Monday night when he attended a meeting on the topic with three other business owners and representatives from the city. Tuesday he was visibly more relaxed.

“We feel it’s been pretty well taken care of,” Bodner said. “I still believe this was completely mishandled by the police department — that is evidenced by the second letter and comments from the police chief last night.”

And while Bodner said the businesses involved are more concerned about shoplifting than they are buying and selling stolen goods, he also pointed out that he and other store owners are looking forward to working with the city in an effort to crack down on crime.

“What the chief said is the city wants to be more proactive against people selling stolen goods,” Bodner explained. “If the chief directs it the way he says he will, it should work. I’m extremely happy with it.”

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