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Nearly 100 shops registered as Erie County enforces Pawn Shop Law

The Erie County Sheriff's Office has been busy issuing licenses and registering pawn shops and secondhand stores, which since January have been subject to a new law that is designed to find and recover stolen goods.

That law requires shops which buy back goods document and hold the items for two weeks before reselling them.

As of this week, 98 businesses throughout Erie County are signed up and licensed. 

"There isn't that many pawn shops outside the City of Buffalo, there might be only half a dozen. But there are secondhand stores that could be inclusive of a jewelry store," said Chief Alan Rozansky of the Erie County Sheriff's Office. "They take in jewelry, and we don't want them melting it down and not being able to recover it, so we have a 14-day waiting period."

Rozansky says there may be a handful more shops that fall under the new law, but deputies at this time are mostly shifting their focus toward compliance. Law enforcers will occasionally visit the businesses to make sure they're following the 14-day rule.

Violators, under the law, are fined $200 for the first offense. A second offense results in a $1,000 fine while repeat violators are fined $3,000 for each time the law is not obeyed.

While he did not have stats readily available, Rozansky noted that during a time when the county is in an opioid addiction crisis, many people needing to buy their next dose are resorting to theft and then attempting to cash in stolen merchandise. The local law, he says, raises the chances that burglary victims may get their goods returned.

"We're trying to do what's right for the citizens of Erie County and having these places hold on to these items," Rozansky said. "I'd say 99 percent of everyone (shop owners) has been receptive of this law, very congenial with us on the phone and in person."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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