Secondhand dealers may need local permits in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — Anyone buying used personal items to sell may soon have to obtain a permit from the town if a new secondhand dealer’s ordinance is approved by the Town Council.

The ordinance, which mirrors state law, would require every business that purchases used personal property with the intent to sell to document the seller’s information: name, address, date of birth and a description of the property. They would also have to see the seller’s license or another form of identification before purchasing the item.

The only difference between the ordinance and state law is the requirement that secondhand dealers obtain a town permit. The cost of that permit has not been set.

“It really gives us the benefit of being aware of who’s operating in the town,” Police Department Capt. David Grover said.

Grover said the local ordinance, which is based on others in Maine, would help the department deal with those who break the law. He said a backlog in the district attorney’s office often prevents these kinds of cases from being prosecuted.

He said it will also allow officers to check in with permitted businesses when items are stolen to see if they turn up in local shops.

Pawn shops are already required to obtain a town permit. Pawn brokers do not purchase items outright, but give the item’s owner a loan and keep the item on hand for at least 30 days; the owner can buy the item back, generally after paying interest, or allow the pawn shop to sell it.

Grover said thieves do not generally pawn items, and instead seek to sell them outright.

The new ordinance would require businesses such as Lots for Tots, a secondhand children’s store, and Bull Moose Music, which buys and resells used CDs, DVDs, video games and books, to also obtain permits.

“With this ordinance, we feel Scarborough has made a valiant attempt to balance the needs of business owners and customers with the needs of law enforcement,” Bull Moose owner Brett Wickard said.

Wickard said the store’s computerized system makes keeping track of the required information easy and that the business would have no problem complying with the town’s ordinance.

“We view it as our duty to our customers and to our community to assist law enforcement in reducing criminal activity in Scarborough and throughout our state,” Wickard said.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or