Houston To Crack Down On Gold And Jewelry Buyers

With gold and precious metals getting high prices — jewelry theft is becoming more common. City officials want to add more regulations to the gold buying industry.

Next week, city councilmembers will vote on an ordinance to put new restrictions on gold and jewelry buyers.

These restrictions include things like taking digital pictures of the pieces they buy as well as a photo of the person selling the item and their thumbprint.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says it's much easier for a home burglar to carry out a ring or bracelet than a flat screen TV and the gold is easier to get rid of on the open market.

"We did a similar process when the theft of copper pipes went into the stratosphere, to try to clamp down. And at this point, you can steal gold and sell it more easily than you can steal someone's copper pipes and sell them."

Gold buyers will also be required to report their daily purchases on an internet database, where law enforcement can cross check them against theft reports.

"These precious metal dealers, 'We Buy Gold, We Buy Silver,' that everybody sees, have popped up like mushrooms almost overnight. Pawn shops are fairly heavily regulated by the state. These gold buyers need to be regulated at least as much."

Parker points out personal jewelry often has sentimental value for the owner and if this ordinance passes next week, companies will be required to wait several days before they can melt down the pieces they buy.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...