Syracuse pawn shop changes aim to cut shoplifting

Syracuse's Common Council is limiting what people can sell, in bulk, to pawn shops, to cut the sale of stolen goods. Some store owners are not sure it will work.

At the request of Syracuse Police, Syracuse's Common Council has changed the city ordnance of second hand dealers--pawn shops. The new rules say they can only buy 3 new items, twice a year in the same year, unless the seller has a wholesaler's license. It's designed to cut down on the sale of small goods stolen from drug stores, like shavers, toothbrush heads and even teeth whitening strips.

"We've definitely seen an increase in the stolen property that comes from drug stores," says Captain Richard Trudell from the Syracuse Police. "We typically see 15 to 20 of these types of items being brought in at a single time."

"There's no reason that anyone would be likely to have more than three identical new items like that if they're not in the wholesale business,' says Councilor Lance Denno, chair of the Council's Public Safety Committee who sponsored the ordinance change. "So this gives us a handle on reducing the traffic of items stolen in bulk."

Not everyone agrees. Chris Fernandez, who operates two Pawn King stores in Syracuse, says that the change may actually hurt tracking shoplifters trying to fence goods. "If anybody is shoplifting and they sell to us, all our data gets transmitted electronically once per week to the police departments." Fernandez says police should be able to track big transactions from what they're getting now, and that they won't see as much from the change. "It's gonna kind of eliminate that pathway for the, I think," he says. Fernandez found out about the change from us, and says the city did not communicate with shop owners in advance.

Fernandez also says the change will cut down on people who buy in bulk with coupons, or gift cards, with the intent of selling.

They will now have to buy a wholesalers' license to continue to buy and sell.

The ordnance change would also change pawn shop hours in Syracuse, shortening how long they can be open at night: 8am to 8pm. Monday through Friday, 8am - 9pm on Saturday, also at the request of Syracuse Police, to cut down on the fencing of stolen items.