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Rensselaer Co. Legislature To Hear Comments On Pawn Shop Law

A pawn shop store front

A proposed law in Rensselaer County aimed at preventing theft would establish 10-day holding period for second-hand dealers like pawn shops.

The Rensselaer County Legislature’s Minority has submitted a local law that would create a mandatory 10-day holding period for pawn shops and other second-hand stores.

The local law, subject to a public hearing tonight, is called “Regulating Pawnbrokers, Secondhand Dealers, Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Coin Exchange.”

The proposal supports a uniform, countywide electronic reporting program for items acquired by second-hand merchants.

Rensselaer County Minority Leader Peter Grimm says the legislation is based on policies adopted by other communities.

“The conversation is about – places that have pawn shops tend to have higher rates of burglary and theft. So, with that, with our mission of course to always look out for the best interest of the citizens, we didn’t see this is as a bad idea,” said Grimm.

A similar law was proposed earlier this year in the Albany County legislature. Albany County District Attorney David Soares supported the law. In a June statement, Soares pointed to those who steal from neighbors and exchange property for cash at local pawn or re-sale shops.

He said in part:

“The ability to track these stolen items will be a huge asset to law enforcement, and will help get the stolen items back to where they belong more quickly. In the midst of this opioid epidemic, we must support as many common sense public safety efforts as we can that deal with the reality of addiction and the collateral consequences that have a real impact on the lives of our citizens.”

The City of Albany has passed such a law. The Albany County proposal, however, was defeated.

At the June 11th Albany County meeting, Republican county legislator Paul Burgdorf likened the proposal to a series of hoops for business owners and would pressure them to leave the county.

“Basically, we have a proposal here which turns their businesses upside-down,” said Burgdorf.

Burgdorf said at the meeting that when the City of Albany established its own policy regarding pawn shops, several businesses moved to neighboring communities. The countywide proposal was defeated 20 to 18.

The City of Springfield, Massachusetts currently has a moratorium on new pawn shops until June 2019.

As reported by WAMC in 2016, Springfield police reported to the city council that in more than a dozen cases, stolen property was recovered at pawn shops throughout Western Massachusetts.

Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri…

"If you have an item stolen, you want the police department  to have a fair shot to make the rounds to all the secondhand junk dealers and pawn shops to make every effort to try to recover your property," said Barbieri.

A public hearing on the Rensselaer County proposal is scheduled for this evening at 6 in legislative chambers.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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