DANVERS — The shutters to the Spindle City Precious Metals pawn-shop kiosk at the Liberty Tree Mall were padlocked shut yesterday afternoon.
Selectmen suspended the store's license to sell secondhand items and ordered it closed through February after police found evidence of shoddy record keeping, something that the police chief said would make it easy for someone to fence stolen loot at the store.
Police found the kiosk had failed to use an electronic spreadsheet furnished to them months ago by police to transmit sales. Detectives also said they found a suspicious pattern in the records where older people's sales were being documented correctly, but those involving young people were not.
That includes police looking into the sale by a 29-year-old Tewksbury man of four pieces of sterling-silver flatware and a pendant, police Chief Neil Ouellette said in his report to selectmen on Tuesday. Police thought the sale suspicious, because not many 29-year-olds own sterling-silver flatware, Ouellette said. The kiosk did not have an image of the items.
"I certainly suggest that the license of this location be suspended for some period of time," Ouellette said. "It's very clear that a lot of the transactions are not being documented, and basically they are using this as a conduit for the transfer of stolen property.
"I'm appalled that it's existing in Danvers, and I'm not going to stand for this as a selectman," Selectman Bill Clark said.
Ouellette said the very nature of a kiosk location prohibits the store from keeping precious metals and other items at the store for two weeks. It also hinders the ability to keep records for one year, as required by the town.
"To my knowledge, there was a problem with the former manager of the location. He hadn't been reporting the incoming goods with the frequency that is lined out in (the) Danvers bylaw," said Brian Corley, the licensing director of the Fall River chain, who said the former manager no longer works for the company, which has 13 stores in the Bay State and Rhode Island.
"We are eager to meet the town of Danvers bylaws moving forward," Corley said.
Clark did not like Corley's lack of specific answers and said he wanted to revoke the store's license.
"I don't know how you run a pawn shop in a kiosk," Clark said. "It boggles my mind."
After a lengthy debate on what to do, Clark's motion to revoke the store's license failed by a vote of 3-2. Then, by a vote of 4-1, with Clark dissenting, the board suspended the license through February, or until representatives of Spindle City could explain how they plan to meet the town's bylaws.
The board took action after Ouellette outlined police efforts to monitor the pawnbroker's operations.
On March 8, police Detective Robert Sullivan found Spindle City's license had expired, and the business failed to use a spreadsheet to record sales. The manager promised to fix these oversights.
Sullivan returned on July 12 and found the mall store had been replaced with a kiosk near the entrance to the Danvers Registry of Motor Vehicles branch office. Sullivan looked at that day's receipts and noticed none of the items sold that day had been recorded.
On Aug. 3, Sullivan investigated a report that a woman had pawned some jewelry at Spindle City, but the sale on July 25 was not listed on information provided by the store. Sullivan went back to the kiosk and found the July 25 paperwork missing. The store is supposed to keep a record of its transactions for the past year on-site, Ouellette said.
In that case, Sullivan had been contacted by a Beverly detective to help locate stolen jewelry at Spindle City as a result of a wave of break-ins. Police were looking for two individuals who pawned the jewelry at the kiosk. The only name that detectives could find in Spindle City's records was that of a suspect's family member. Sullivan spoke with a temporary manager and found no image of the items, and was told the permanent manager probably handled the sale. The items were eventually located in a Spindle City warehouse, Ouellette said.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DanverSalemNews.