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Erie County looks to toughen rules for pawn shops

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Mike Desmond/wbfo news
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The Erie County Legislature is likely to approve some new controls on pawn shops following a public hearing held Thursday.

The legislature went through the process in the spring and then called it back for more action.

On hand for the public hearing was jeweler Mark Borgenicht, who says during his 40 years in the business, he has dealt with people in a family selling stolen family property and then the family wanting it back.

"You can't be expected to give back the ring and they keep the money. I'm assuming they are going to press charges. There won't be any visits from the Sheriff's Department if somebody isn't pressing charges against the thief. Because oftentimes, 'My son stole the jewelery and we want it back.' Of course, we aren't going to give you the money," said Borgenicht.
            
Most of the speakers were suburban police chiefs saying there have to be regulations because of an increasing problem of merchandise stolen to pay for a drug problem, often family property stolen and sold by a family member and heirlooms are immediately melted down, lost forever.

Orchard Park Police Chief Mark Pacholec says his department dealt with a serial burglar.

"One of the issues he had was a drug issue, which is something the Legislature has spoken to recently. The constant availability to move stolen property is one of the fueling forces for drug addicts so they can have that resource for quick cash and get that next high or that next fix. This law might help us deal with that and address that issue," Pacholec said.

Other chiefs agree, although some people in the jewelry and precious metals fields say the altered law is unfair to some and delays their ability to sell merchandise when it has to be held until police can check the source and the ownership.

The measure is likely to be passed by the legislature next week.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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