Updated 06/26/2012 11:44 PM
Secondhand, metal exchange dealers react to regulations
A new law in Albany County aims to bring stolen property back to its rightful owner, but businesses that deal in precious metals and secondhand goods are going to feel the impact. Innae Park has more.
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ALBANY COUNTY, N.Y. – Secondhand and precious metal exchange dealers are weighing in on a proposed law that would change their livelihoods, but ideally recover stolen property.
Local law "F" would require business owners to report each purchase or exchange, including a description of the items and the customer's personal information, all into an electronic database. County law enforcement would then have access to it and if any item was found to be stolen, it would be returned to its rightful owner.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said, “Unfortunately, it's going to cost the businesses a bit of money. But ultimately it's a good thing. It's a good thing for the consumers coming through the county and for the residents of the county.”
Such a case just happened this spring, when St. John's Episcopal Church of Troy was burglarized and the stolen items were discovered at a pawn shop in Albany and the owner worked with authorities to return the belongings.
Gary Domalewicz is sponsoring the legislation and he says this would be the first law in a county to focus on recovering stolen property in Upstate New York. He also says there is a benefit to the pawn shop owner. “
It's good for them because they don't buy a piece of stolen merchandise. It's good for us and the Albany Police Department and other law enforcement because we're going to recover the merchandise and arrest a criminal,” he said.
While business owners see the merit of the law, they have many concerns.
Chris Deangelo, an employee at Olde Saratoga Coin, said, “It would be almost impossible for a business to remain open. The cost it would require and the amount of time that would be needed to record the detailed information puts the business in a very difficult situation.”
There are other concerns as well. Items must be held for a ten day period before any financial transaction occurs to give officials time to review potentially stolen property. If it determined that the item could be a part of an investigation, it must be held for 90 days, or until the hold order is cancelled. All this comes at a cost for both the seller and buyer.
Jason Pierce is the president of the Albany County Dealers Association and the owner of ASE Metal Recovery.
Pierce said, “Businesses are going to have to pay less for gold now to hedge for a potential decrease during that ten day wait period.”
He also admitted that many shops are old-fashioned, still recording everything with pen and paper, which means more costs.
“A lot of business owners will have to invest in new computer systems and hardware,” said Pierce.
There has been some compromise since this idea was brought up last year. Pierce says legislators like Domalewicz and Chris Higgins have discussed problem issues that dealers had with the original proposal. Now, they’ve reduced the holding period from the original 21 days to 10 and trade antique and coin shows have been excluded from the legislation.
Depending on the legislature’s vote in July, that may be the best the dealers can hope for.
“We'd rather not have a law. We believe our dealers could police themselves,” said Pierce. “But if a law is to be implemented, this law is substantially better than the one first proposed last year.”
The law would also require all such businesses to be licensed, including traveling vendors who come to the county for an event.
Any dealer found in violation would face a fine up to $500 for the first offense. A subsequent violation could result in a fine up to $1,000 and/or loss of license. Any violation after the fifth violation would mean a $3,000 fine and loss of license.
If Local Law “F” passes, it will go into effect after 90 days.