Proposed Pawnshop at 723 S. Western Avenue sign now

 

I am writing to express my community’s concerns and opposition to the granting of a special use license, which would allow a pawnshop to open at 723 S. Western Ave. We are respectfully asking you to deny the application. My neighbors and I live within a one to three block radius of the planned site for the pawnshop.
  Our concerns, which form the basis for our opposition, are detailed below:
  1.        We believe that the presence of a pawnshop will bring more crime to our neighborhood.   This viewpoint is based on the concept of geographic profiling, which is a tool used not only to solve crimes, but also to predict crime trends. Dr. Kim Rossmo, a court accepted and published expert in this field, confirms that the granting of this special use license and subsequent establishment of a pawnshop would draw criminals into a community and create crime as well.
  According to the concept of geographic profiling, pawnshops are both crime generators and crime attractors.  They attract large numbers of people, providing opportunities for offenders and victims to cross paths, affording many opportunities for crime. Burglaries, assaults and shootings plague pawnshops around the nation. There is a reason that pawnshops have bulletproof glass, buzzers on their entrances, and cameras on the shoppers and sellers. As the use of the shop grows, so does the crime problem in that area. Criminally active individuals are drawn to these locations. Although initially they may come from outside the area, they often move into it, further increasing crime there.
  Plainly and simply, pawnshops attract criminals.  If this were not so, then major law enforcement jurisdictions would have no need for Pawn Criminal Investigation Units who work closely with federal agencies to combat crimes associated with pawnshops. This task force exists because pawn operations fence stolen property, and are responsible for funneling millions of dollars into the drug economy each year.
  Furthermore, this proposed pawnshop will be located half a block from a children’s playground and a block from an elementary school. There are also many students and professionals associated with UIC, Rush and the medical district that live in the area. Many UIC students, who are known to have laptops and i-phones have been frequent targets of assault and robbery. The pawnshop will also be two blocks from the Blue line train station and the I-290 expressway, affording criminals multiple vulnerable targets and a quick exit route to get away.
  2.         Many Pawnshop owners and supporters will say that the pawnshop industry is highly regulated, and is therefore a safe place to do business. To stymie thefts, Pawnbrokers say that they report serial numbers to law enforcement agencies and take photos of items they take in. Some require a photo ID and videotape transactions to deter criminals from using pawnshops as a place to sell their stolen goods. The reality is, only about 2% of victims record the serial numbers of their property. These stolen goods will be sold before a serial number will ever be recorded or matched. Law enforcement agency data bases are either lacking, insufficient or backlogged. Another hindrance to the unambiguous identification of articles is that some kinds of property are easily rendered indistinguishable. Jewelry, which is popular with thieves and pawnbrokers, is an example of such an item. Precious stones may be removed and reset, and valuable metals may be melted down. Interestingly, Cash America International, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest producers of gold bullion, but it owns no gold mines. It does, however, operate the nation’s largest chain of pawnshops.
  Some state and municipal regulations may require the pawnor to furnish identification with a photo and to have their fingerprint and photo taken. In practice, however, very few jurisdictions make full use of this information. Moreover, these requirements are easily circumvented. The offenders can provide false information or use false identification. Alternatively, some criminals have reported persuading friends or acquaintances to pawn the items for them, thereby distancing themselves from the items and further reducing their odds of apprehension.
  The National Pawnbrokers Association explains that pawnbrokers attempt to screen out stolen goods, as the broker will lose both the collateral and the amount loaned if police seize the items. However, only Delaware, Virginia, and the District of Columbia explicitly permit police to search for and to seize without a warrant items which they believe are stolen. In contrast, some state laws make the recovery of stolen property from pawnshops difficult for crime victims. Unless a judge ordered its return, the items remained the property of the pawnbroker. Laws in seven other states similarly require victims to seek legal adjudication to secure the return of their property, and since obtaining a judicial order is costly, very few victims are likely to seek return of their articles. In such instances, the expected cost of unwittingly receiving stolen property is not high, and a pawnbroker’s incentive to discern the origin of offered items is reduced. In addition, the competitive nature of pawn markets imposes a potentially large opportunity cost on the refusal of items. One pawnbroker stated that “if I don’t take it and make money, another pawnshop will. You don’t ask where it came from.”
  3.         Pawnshops, like check-cashing establishments, are predatory and usurious, and injure the most vulnerable members of our community: the poor and the desperate.  The interest rates charged by pawnshops are outrageous and resemble loan-sharking activities much more than the resource-in-time-of-need image that pawnshop owners would have us believe. Our community already has usurious and unregulated check cashing facilities that prey on the weak. Allowing a pawnshop would expose the vulnerable population to one more source of potential exploitation. 
  4.         Pawnshops create a negative image of the neighborhood and the city in which they are located. This will hinder more-beneficial development and depress real estate values.  Pawnshops have earned their unsavory reputations, and the experience of other communities supports this conclusion.  Pawnshops do not have a stigma because of an opinion, they have a stigma because they cause problems and crimes. We are very concerned about the message that a pawnshop, combined with the numerous non-bank “check cashing” facilities nearby, would send to potential homebuyers and business people. Pawnshop owners imply that members of some community have an unfair prejudice against, and an undeserved negative perception of, the pawn industry.  However, we believe the perception people have of pawnshops is accurate.  A pawnshop is not, and never will be, an asset to any community. Increasing the number of owner-occupied homes and attracting positive businesses are what strengthens a community by increasing the number of people committed to the community’s safety and success, adding a pawnshop defeats that purpose by giving potential homeowners one more reason to invest in their futures elsewhere. 
 
Our community is not opposed to development, we welcome and support it. However, we also want our neighborhood to continue to progress towards creating a safe and vibrant community. We have worked very hard to get our neighborhood to its current state. There are many other options for businesses that can help revitalize this area of Chicago. A pawnshop is not one of them.
  Based on the reasons discussed, our community would best be served by the denial of the special use license application for a proposed pawnshop at 723 S. Western Ave. As our appointed public servant, we hope that you will represent your constituents' interests. We therefore respectfully request that you duly deny this special use license application.
  Thank you very much for your consideration and service. 
  Tri-Taylor Community Members

 

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Information

ClaremontPACBy:
Business and CompaniesIn:
Petition target:
Alderman 28th ward, zoning committee, potential developers, pawnshop owners

Petition community:
Tri-Taylor community

Tags

crime, medical district, pawnshop, tri-taylor, uic, western ave.

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