MONROE COUNTY, N.Y. — The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) along with the County Executive are trying to curb both larceny and the opioid crisis at the same time. In a Tuesday press conference, representatives announced proposed updates to regulations for secondhand dealers, like pawn shops and jewelry and coin exchanges.
At the suggestion of MCSO, County Executive Adam Bello submitted a referral to the Legislature to update some old regulations. The reasoning: MCSO data found a large connection between addiction, pawn shops, and larceny.
In 2020, MCSO found that 65% of people who overdosed in Monroe County were known to sell to pawn shops. Of course, not all of those sales included stolen goods, but MCSO said they’ve found countless connections in individual cases, with people suffering from addiction getting caught stealing and then pawning tens of thousands of dollars worth of items.
The larceny alone causes alarm for MCSO Undersheriff Korey Brown.
“We’re seeing it happen every day, day after day after day,” he said. “When you look at these big box retailers, they’re getting hit every day, people are going in and stealing from them every day.”
After MCSO reached out, Bello pushed for the legislative change.
“That increase in larcenies is fueling the opioid epidemic, when people steal those items from our local stores, then go to a pawn shop and pawn them right away,” he said.
The new change is designed to stop that. It updates a 2014 bill that put pressure on secondhand dealers to keep track of their goods, bringing it into the 21st century by focusing on an electronic tagging and tracking system. With this expanded electronic system, the bill also bans individuals who sell at secondhand stores like these from selling too many new goods. They can’t sell more than three of any new good in a given calendar year. For example, they can’t sell three brand-new pairs of Nike sneakers in a given year.
To ensure these rules are followed, MCSO requested their enforcement capabilities to be expanded, with criminal and civil fines, as well as the option to suspend or revoke dealers licenses.
Brown and Bello both said this legislation is aimed to be one more attempt in their multi-pronged approach to curb both drug addiction, and larceny.
“If we can find a way to interject in their lives and not just let them repeating this cycle of stealing cash, and getting more drugs, we’re helping them,” Brown said.
The legislation has been approved at the committee level this week, by the Agenda/Charter and Public Safety committees.
The changes to the county bill mirror a similar regulation that already exists within the City of Rochester.
“The majority of the pawn shops and the businesses right are doing exactly what they’re supposed to do,” Brown said. “We’re trying to go after the ones that are accepting stolen goods and know they’re accepting stolen goods. And then selling them in various ways. So we’re trying to make it so they can’t do that.”
Mark Assini, the Republican candidate for County Executive, gave the following statement on the proposed update:
“As Gates Supervisor our board passed a similar law years ago because pawnshops were being used as a gateway for addicts and drug dealers to get cash. Based on recent discussions with Gates Police Chief Rob Long the Gates ordinance is still effective. Unfortunately our county is in the middle of the worst drug crisis in its history. 293 overdose deaths in 2021 and currently the county estimate is 178 and we aren’t even through the month of August. If the County Pawnshop Law is not up to date or needs to be improved by all means do it.”
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, there are several resources available. Text and call resources are available 988, and online chat help can be found at https://988lifeline.org. To learn how to get support for mental health, drug or alcohol issues, visit https://FindSupport.gov. To learn more about treatment facilities or providers, visit https://FindTreatment.gov or call 800-662-HELP (4357).