Broome County fights to recover stolen property

By Kelly McCarthy

July 7, 2014 Updated Jul 7, 2014 at 5:29 PM EST

Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) In order to cut down on crime in Broome County, law enforcement will ask the County Legislature to pass a new Secondhand Property Law.

The proposal would target criminals who steal property and then try to sell it to local pawn shops, scrap yards and jewelry stores.

"The point being these people aren't stealing things to use, they're selling it," said Chief Joseph Zikuski, Binghamton Police Department. "And they're getting rid of it quickly, to turn it over quickly to make a fast buck."

Last year Broome County had more than 500 burglaries and more than 1,700 larcenies, but it's not just those crimes the county expects to see drop.

"It links to another subject, which is this tremendous increase in opiate addiction, heroin addiction and the crime wave that goes with that," said Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen.

The proposal would mean more work for businesses who sell secondhand goods. Owners would have to sign up with the county and get a license to operate. Registering would include paying a fee and getting fingerprinted.

"Some of them will not like this and other ones won't mind it a bit," said Broome County Sheriff (R) David Harder, "we run into problems during our investigations with people not wanting to show merchandise and we know they have stolen property there and we have to go back."

Businesses would require a picture ID from every customer, or take their picture if they can't provide one. Then hold all merchandise for at least 10 days before re-selling it.

"It causes a little ripple of inconvenience, that's what I'm going to call it," Mollen said. "I think we're going to have near unanimous support from the business community."

Members of law enforcement just have to get the Broome County Legislators on board. The Sheriff hopes the proposal will be passed in August.

"This is really a non-partisan issue, it's not a Republican or a Democrat issue, it's a community issue," said Capt. Fred Akshar, "and again we're at the point now where we're ready to present a final draft to the legislature in hopes that they act on it."

The Sheriff's Office said it modeled this proposal off of several other counties in New York which have secondhand property laws. It would use the private website company www.leadsonline.com.

Democrat Chris Bracco is running for Broome County Sheriff in the upcoming election and weighs in on the legislation. His full statement reads, “With Broome County having the highest property crime rate in New York State, any initiative curbing the quick sale of stolen goods is in the best interests of public safety. I called for this very legislation when I announced my candidacy in May, and I’m pleased to finally see progress on this issue at the county level. For years, other New York counties have had similar legislation on the books, and as far back as 2012, crime statistics indicated that your property was more likely to be stolen in Broome County than anywhere else in the state. Again, I call on our local leaders and law-enforcement officials to enact countywide secondhand dealer legislation that provides for positive identification of sellers, a hold period on property before resale, and the cataloging of inventory through an online statewide database. That said, Broome County can't wait every four years for it's sheriff to get on board with measures that combat crime. We need a sheriff that is active and ahead of the criminals, not behind them. As Sheriff, I'll work hard each and every day to develop anti-crime initiatives that put criminals behind bars and on notice that Broome County will no longer tolerate their activity in our community.”

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