The District Government has decided not to force charitable groups like Goodwill Industries to comply fully with regulations designed to guard against the "fencing" of stolen goods through second-hand stores.
The D.C. police department's pawn section had started applying the 45-year-old reporting requirment last October to pawn shops, antique dealers, junk dealers and second-hand stores operated by charities to help stem a raising tide of burglaries.
Grops like Goodwill, the Salvation Army and Amvets had complained vehemently that because of the large volume of donated goods they handle -- mostly clothes -- they could not conform with the law.
The regulation required the 300 second-hand dealers to file daily reports detailing the name, address, age, race and sex of people who donate or sell merchandise and the names and addresses of the people who buy it.
But the D.C. corporation counsel, the government's attorney, said second-hand stores that sell, items such as clothes on consignment, would not be exempted.
"I hope the city is not serious about this," said Jean Ward, manager of the Junior League Shop at 3037 M St. NW, which sells clothing on consignment.
Ward hinted that the store, which gives $60,000 to $80,000 annually to other charitable organizations from its sales, might be forced to close because it could not afford to hire a large enough staff to keep track of its sales.
Some operators of profit-making consignment shops that sell only clothes contend that the reporting requirements is "ridiculous."
These operators said that because sellers are usually required to leave their names and addresses so their payment can be mailed to them two or three months later, the shops are unattrative to thieves who want immediate cash and anonymity.
Some clothing consignment shop operators said they had never filed the reports and have not been visited recently by city police.
Since the stepp-up enforcement effort began last fall police said they had usually recovered $20,000 worth of stolen silver, cameras and jewelry a month from the second-hand shops. But last month, police said they recovered $250,000 worth of goods.
Goodwill and the other stores run by charities would still be required to file reports on purchasers who buy cameras, furs, jewelry, silver, television sets or any items priced over $25.