West Allis shuts down jewelry shop for violating theft-detection rule

June 12, 2012

West Allis - A secondhand jewelry shop's failure to report the purchase of 89 items, including one stolen watch, has put it out of business.

The West Allis Common Council last week revoked the license held by Luna Jewelry & Repair, 5835 W. National Ave., because the business violated a city requirement aimed at aiding police in detecting stolen property.

All such businesses must report purchases within 24 hours so police can compare the merchandise information and photographs against property that has been reported stolen. The stolen watch was found among the 89 unreported items by Milwaukee police investigating a string of burglaries in their city.

Although none of the other items were determined to have been stolen, Alderman Michael Czaplewski, chairman of the city's License and Health Committee, said police "heavily recommended" taking away Luna's secondhand jewelry dealer license.

Questionable background

As a backdrop to that incident is the fact that Luna's owner is the son of the owner of a shop on Milwaukee's south side that Milwaukee closed down in 2009, based on evidence that stolen property was routinely sold there.

The owner of Luna, Frank Sandino Jr., had worked at that store. He opened his own shop in 2010.

Adding fuel to West Allis officials' doubts is that Sandino applied for the secondhand jewelry dealer license for Luna under the name of his fiancée, Merari Rodriguez. The couple is now married.

If Sandino had been more up front about the shop's ownership on the application, city officials might have been willing to overlook the failure to report the items in a timely fashion, attorney Michael Chernin, representing Sandino, suggested to city officials last week.

Asking for city's leniency

Chernin said his client had wanted to break away from his father, Chernin said.

The attorney also emphasized that Sandino had been helpful to police, supplying the watch and information on who brought it to him, Chernin said.

He asked the city last week to extend the closing time for the store to three months so that Sandino can sell it.

But officials declined. To do so, the city would have had to issue another one-year license (the store's current license expires at the end of June) and then hold another revocation hearing, something aldermen didn't support under the circumstances.

Alderman Marty Weigel wondered what would have happened to the unreported 89 items, if the Milwaukee police had not discovered them.

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