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Greenslade: ‘Hands Tied’ On Cash-for-Gold

Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said his hands are tied when dealing with suspected stolen goods as cash for gold businesses are fully licensed by the government.

Minister of National Security Dr. Bernard Nottage raised the issue of a link with cash for gold stores and crime this week.

The minister said he wants to close cash for gold businesses and wants a temporary ban on copper exports in the face of rising jewelry and copper theft.

“These people have licenses to operate the businesses that they do,” said Greenslade when asked if police would increase investigations on these businesses.

“They went through a process, they applied in a proper way and were given a license. Let’s be careful what we say. I can’t work magic.”

The commissioner said the blame for the crimes should not be placed solely on cash for gold dealers

“I think it’s unfair just to speak to cash for gold because it skews the conversation,” he said.

“I think it’s unfair to business people and while I have concerns there I think it’s unfair. “I know for a fact if there was not a market in The Bahamas for illicit goods, for drugs, for stolen property . . . we wouldn’t be recording the figures that we are recording.”

Greenslade said the police “enjoy a very good relationship” with many pawn brokers and are able to get records and CCTV footage to help with investigations.

He said the government should not only look at the number of licenses given to pawn brokers. He said the proliferation of liquor stores in residential areas and nightspots which have licenses to operate at “strange hours” should be
addressed as well.

Nottage revealed crime statistics that suggest that there is a relationship between stolen goods and cash for gold businesses.

The statistics also suggest a relationship between stolen goods and copper exports.

Nottage said of the 506 armed robberies committed between January 1 and June 11, 2013 – 299 or 59 percent of them involved copper or jewelry theft.

Similarly, of the 157 robberies during that period, 64 cases or 41 percent involved jewelry or copper theft.

Statistics further show that 31 percent of the burglary cases, 33 percent of the housebreaking cases, 23 percent of the shopbreaking cases and 29 percent of the stealing from vehicles cases involved copper or jewelry theft.

Of the 3,210 robbery-related cases during that period, 1,119 (35 percent) of them involved copper or jewelry theft, Nottage said.

Earlier this week, the president of Gold Rush Bahamas said closing the cash for gold sector would only put a dent in the jewelry buying business and hurt the Bahamian people.

He also defended the cash for gold business, calling it a “worldwide” enterprise.

He added that it is unfair to punish all business owners for the few who may not have complied with the regulations for the industry set out by the government.

“I personally do not think that the closure of cash for gold will stop anything as it pertains to jewelry theft or robberies,” said the operator, who did not want his name revealed.

“We have a system implemented that came down directly from the authorities. The police said we must take government-issued IDs.

“All of these things are put in place for us to protect ourselves, but maybe there are some of the smaller companies who take jewelry without the proper identification.”

By Taneka Thompson
Guardian Senior Reporter

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