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New Berlin considering changes to resale shop, escort service ordinances

Dec. 3, 2012

New Berlin - Wanting to be sure that thieves don't target New Berlin as a good place to fence their goods, the city is busy erecting its own fence.

It's considering licensing secondhand stores and requiring daily reporting of purchases to police.

And while it's at it, New Berlin officials are figuring out how to control escort services when they operate in the city.

Ordinances to license secondhand shops and escort services are making their way through the Common Council.

The secondhand licensing would not affect Goodwill or consignment shops, only those that buy gold and other more valuable items or loan money for them as pawn shops.

Three shops that buy valuable items operate in New Berlin, Police Chief Joseph Rieder said. An inquiry was made last year to open a fourth such shop and officials decided controls are needed, he said.

Because so many other communities have reporting requirements for such shops, thieves might try to fence stolen merchandise in New Berlin where the items are not routinely checked against a list of stolen property, he said.

In addition, such routine checks for stolen property work better the more communities participate, so more people get their things back, he said.

Alderman David Ament was concerned about the ordinance calling for reporting purchases of such ordinary things as china and bicycles. The list of reportable items purchased for resale might have to be revised, he said.

The licensing ordinance could be approved as early as Dec. 11 Common Council meeting.

Escort services which have a stereotype, deserved or not, of occasionally turning into something more illicit should be controlled so the city can weed out those that are not legitimate, Rieder said.

Police have been getting reports from hotels of loud guests, marijuana and possibly other drugs and of people coming and going in ways not typical of normal guest activity, Rieder said.

If the licensing ordinance is approved, the Common Council could deny licenses, revoke licenses or fine illegal operations, he said. Licensing would give the city some clout to deal with problems that otherwise would have to go to the Waukesha County District Attorney's Office, he said.

The proposed ordinance is based on escort licensing ordinances in other communities, city attorney Mark Blum said.

It will likely get a second reading Tuesday and go on for possible approval in January.

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