County’s new law requires pawn shops to hold items for 5 days before sale

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 December 2015 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Orleans County has passed a local law requiring pawn shops and other secondhand dealers to hang on to merchandise for at least 5 days before a sale.

The county had considered the local law to require businesses to hold merchandise for at least 14 days but trimmed that wait to 5 days instead. Erie County last week voted to pass similar legislation and it requires a 14-day hold.

The law in Orleans applies to pawnbrokers, swap shop operators, stamp dealers, coin dealers, jewelers and auction houses that purchase and resell items from people other than dealers and suppliers. There are some exemptions, including garage sales, antique dealers and sales by governmental, civic and religious organizations.

Law enforcement officials requested the law, saying stolen merchandise is often taken to pawn shops and jewelry stores.

The new lawn requires secondhand dealers to not buy from anyone under age 18, and cannot purchase items where the original manufacturer’s serial number no longer legibly exists.

Sellers to the secondhand shops also need to present identification at the time of sale.

The owners of the secondhand businesses need to keep records of what was purchased and from which sellers, and those records need to be filled out on forms provided or approved by the district attorney. The person who made the acquisition, whether the owner of the business or an employee, also needs to be recorded for each item.

All entries of sales and transactions need to be kept for a year and open for inspection by police officers, according to the local law. (Erie County is requiring the records be kept for five years.)

Owners of the secondhand businesses also need to allow law enforcement officers to examine, during normal business hours, any goods, articles, pledges, pawns, books or other records relating to secondhand property.

Officers are also allowed to seize items they have “reasonable grounds to believe to have been stolen.” Property seized will be receipted and shall be returned within 10 days if determined not to have been stolen.

Secondhand dealers who break this law could be fined a minimum of $50 and maximum of $500 on the first offense.

Paul Lauricella of Lyndonville was critical of the law during last week’s Legislature session. Lauricella said police shouldn’t be allowed to search businesses without warrants.

“Our Founding Fathers went to war over this,” Lauricella said.

The law was unanimously passed by the seven county legislators. Legislature Chairman David Callard said the law went through “numerous revisions” before the vote last Wednesday.