September 13, 2006
Samuel J. Parker, Jr., Chairman
RE: Special Exception SE-4554
I am writing to express my
concerns about, and opposition to, the granting of Special Exception SE4554,
which would allow a pawnshop to locate at
My concerns, which form the basis for my opposition, are enumerated below:
1. I am certain
that the presence of a second pawnshop will bring more crime both to the
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. 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, which all of the neighboring jurisdictions, as well as
Further, there are only two small businesses that will separate this pawnshop from the entrance to a park and hiker biker trail. This trail leads directly to Holy Redeemer School, just two blocks away, on down past two playgrounds and finally on to the Metro Station, affording criminals multiple vulnerable targets and a quick getaway to cash in their ill gotten gains.
Now, Mr. Cutlip will tell you that there is a requirement
that he report the items he takes in to the
In addition, in an effort to “backdoor” this change, and in
effect accomplish what the proposed legislation would, the NPA has been
attempting to have the use of the Regional Pawn Data Sharing System (RPDSS)
halted. The RPDSS is sponsored by the
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and is used by
If the NPA succeeds in their endeavors, and the Special
Exception in question is granted, not only will we have more crime in
2. 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 the applicant, Mr. Cutlip would have us believe is his goal. Mr. Cutlip, charges in the range of 20 percent per month (the equivalent of 240 percent per year) in his stores. Our community already has too many usurious and unregulated check cashing facilities that prey on the weak. Allowing another pawnshop would expose the vulnerable population to one more source of potential exploitation.
create a negative image of the neighborhood and the City in which they are
located, which 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. I am very
concerned about the message that another pawnshop, combined with the numerous
non-bank “check cashing” facilities in our community, would send to potential
homebuyers and business people. As Councilwoman Joseline Pena-Melnyk (Dist. 4) said
in a June 1, 2006 article in the Gazette newspaper, ‘‘This would not be a good
thing for us because we’re trying to revitalize
4. As evidenced by his public statements, the applicant, appears to be acting in bad faith. I do not believe he, nor his organization, will be good corporate citizens of our community. Mr. Cutlip made what have since proved to be empty promises to address our concerns. Included in those promises were the facts that he would not buy or sell guns at the proposed location, and would not call the location a pawnshop. But, if you look in the 2005/2006 Verizon Yellow Pages, on page 798, you will find an advertisement for Best Pawn, listing the proposed location of 5051 Greenbelt Road, with a picture of a gun, as well as verbiage indicating the shop buys and sells guns.
Mr. Cutlip also began his efforts to gain the endorsement of the community by claiming he had the interests of the community and his potential clients in mind. However, in his public statements (specifically, the June 1, 2006 article by Dennis Carter in the Gazette), the applicant vowed to take revenge on this community for opposing his business:
‘‘I’ll fight this to the end,” said Cutlip.
‘‘I’m taking it personal [sic]... I was willing to work with them.
They put all these restrictions on me, but then they still stand in opposition.
They think their [city] is better than Landover or Riverdale or
I submit that, based on the applicant’s own statements, as well as the other reasons discussed, the community’s fears of having such an enterprise in our City would be realized. It is for all these reasons, I am sure our community would best be served by the denial of Mr. Cutlip’s application, and I therefore respectfully request the Board duly deny this application. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Deborah J. Vanadia-Mims
Board Member, Neighborhood Preservation Coalition
Board Member, Berwyn District Civic Association