CUMMING — Those who deal in precious metals or gems must now obtain a special permit from Forsyth County.
During a meeting Thursday, the commission signed off on a new ordinance regulating those who engage in the purchase of precious metals such as platinum, gold and silver and gems from anyone other than manufacturers or their representatives.
Some exceptions to the ordinance include consignment, transactions between individuals and coins for the purpose of collecting.
Commissioners also set fees for the new permit, which County Attorney Ken Jarrard said will be sold and monitored by the Sheriff’s Office.
“It is somewhat akin to a pawn broker ordinance in that it is attempting to address the same sort of concern in that it provides a mechanism by which law enforcement can be aware of, in this context, precious metals and gems that are traded or pawned to merchants and receive money for them,” Jarrard said.
He added that the ordinance, for which a fourth public hearing was also held Thursday at which no one spoke, sets up a system of databases and transactional recordings.
Three previous public hearings were held beginning in late 2013.
Under the ordinance, dealers must get a fingerprint and photo ID from the seller, as well as a digital image of what’s being sold. Materials must be held for at least 30 days before resale.
They must also submit to the sheriff’s office electronic reports each day of the materials they take in, and establishments with security cameras must maintain video for at least 30 days.
Commissioners set the fee for the initial permit at $25 with a renewal fee of $10 per year, based on recommendations from the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff’s Detective Kris Hall said dealers will have about 30 days to buy their permits.
“We want to get them onboard as quick as we can because there is some software and things they will need to purchase as well,” Hall said. “But we’ll probably give them until Jan. 1 to make sure they are fully in compliance. And then after that date is when we’ll probably start issuing warnings and citations.”
Hall added established businesses should be aware of the ordinance.
“It’s not a surprise that it was coming,” he said. “We actually went around and talked to most, if not all, of the precious metal dealers, jewelers, pawn shops and let them know.”
A similar ordinance for pawn shops passed in July 2013, setting increased reporting requirements and other measures.
Hall said the pawn brokers’ ordinance has yielded good results and he’s hoping for similar success with the precious metals and gems measure.
“It’s another tool that we were looking at for enforcement and recovery of property and it has really worked out well,” he said.
“We’ve recovered property because of it. We’ve actually discovered crime that we didn’t even know had occurred because of it. So we’re hoping this closes that loophole as far as jewelry and some of those types of things.”