Monroe County leaders want to limit the number of new, similar items a person can sell to a pawnbroker, secondhand dealer or coin exchange dealer in one year, believing new regulations will reduce retail theft that is driven by opioid addiction.
County Executive Adam Bello and Sheriff Todd Baxter have asked the Monroe County Legislature to adopt new laws that will restrict sales to pawn shops and similar stores, require increased accountability, and expand the authority of the sheriff’s office to suspend or revoke licenses of non-compliant businesses.
“We are taking a number of steps to address the opioid crisis, but we can’t ignore the fact that it’s spurring criminal activity,” Bello said in a news release. “When people steal goods from retailers and pawn them to support their opioid addiction, everyone suffers.”
Retailers in the region sustain hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses from theft, ultimately leading to increased prices.
“For too long, pawn shops have been an easy outlet for people struggling with drug addiction, fueling their habit by turning stolen goods into quick cash to feed their addiction,” Undersheriff Korey Brown said.
The proposed law changes would make it illegal for an individual to sell more than three new goods that are identical or a similar type within a calendar year. Dealers accepting items from individuals who exceed the limit would be subject to fines and/or license suspension.
The limits could have a significant impact. Statistics retrieved from an online retail transactions database show that one seller alone sold 73 new, in-the-box items to one Monroe County shop between July 23 and Aug. 22, according to Deputy Brendan Hurley, the department’s public information officer. Another person sold 60 items.
Sellers are ranked by number of items sold. The person ranked 50th sold nine items in that 30-day period.
“This is only 30 days,” Hurley said in an email to the Rochester Business Journal and The Daily Record. “Imagine what it would total by the end of the year.”
Proponents say the changes will align Monroe County law with regulations already in place in the city of Rochester and towns of Irondequoit and Greece.
“Bringing these regulations into the 21st century will require tagged items to assist law enforcement, bring internet commerce under its purview and further hold both criminal sellers and dealers accountable,” legislature vice president Sean Delehanty (R-Perinton) said.
The sheriff is the licensing officer throughout the county for pawnbrokers, secondhand dealers and jewelry and coin exchange dealers, except in municipalities that have their own laws.
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