HAUPPAUGE, NY – (January 15, 2015) –Today, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was joined by District Attorney Tom Spota, Assistant Deputy County Executive for Public Safety Tim Sini and the Suffolk County Police Department to announce a series of legislative initiatives to make it more difficult for criminals to sell stolen merchandise at pawn shops.
With a rising trend of heroin and opioid use in the region, the initiatives will remove a known source of quick cash for drug addicts who are responsible for thousands of thefts. These initiatives will also make it easier for police to solve these crimes, protect crime victims and help legitimate pawn shops from unknowingly purchasing stolen merchandise.
“These crimes do not happen in a vacuum. They are related to a larger issue – the issue of heroin and opiate addiction and abuse throughout our County,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “These legislative proposals will make it more difficult for people to sell stolen property to pawn shops and easier for our law enforcement to identify stolen goods so that they can be returned to their rightful owners and the criminals arrested. These proposals help to protect our communities and enhance our quality of life.”
“I am thankful for the County Executive for proposing this legislation and thank Chief Burke and the SCPD for their efforts in identifying this crime trend,” said District Attorney Thomas Spota. “Many of these pawn shops are upstanding business owners; however, there are a select few that are clearly breaking the law and are supplying addicts with a source of money to buy more drugs.”
The first proposed law will require second hand dealers, as well as precious metal and gem dealers, to take photographs of the seller, the seller’s identification and the items being sold, and upload that data into an existing computerized tracking system. The photographs will go into a secure database only accessed by law enforcement officials, and will make it easier for authorities to track down stolen property and return it to the rightful owner. The second proposed law prohibits second hand dealers from erasing any data off of electronic devices for 21 days after the purchase. With the owner’s personal data still on the device, it will be easier for police to track down the stolen device and return it to the rightful owner.
“Today’s announcement is a great example of the County Executive’s office working in partnership with the Suffolk County Police Department and the Department of Labor Licensing and Consumer Affairs to propose strengthening legislation that will protect crime victims throughout our County,” said Sini, previously an Assistant United States Attorney. “This is also a tremendous example of the use of Intelligence Led Policing to identify crime trends in an effort to make Suffolk County safer for all residents.”
“Simply put, opiate addiction - specifically heroin addiction - is driving crime not only in this county, but all over the United States of America,” said SCPD Chief of Department Jim Burke. “This legislation, if enacted, will provide the police with a great tool.”
The third proposed law will require second hand dealers to take a photograph of the seller and record the serial number of gift cards being sold to the second hand dealers. Gift cards are currently not covered under the existing law.
The proposed legislation is a result of the Suffolk County Police Department’s Intelligence Led Policing efforts, which were established in 2012 at the direction of Commissioner Ed Webber and Chief Burke. Since implementation of the Intelligence Led Policing, Suffolk County has seen a 17% reduction countywide crime. The police established a clear link between several crime patterns and the ability of criminals to use pawn shops as a ready source of quick cash in order to feed their drug habits.
Additionally, a Pattern Crime Unit was born from the Intelligence Led Policing model in 2013. The Pattern Crime Unit is a special unit designed to utilize data to identify patterns in crime and guide future operations.
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