Police began enforcing regulations for buying used goods Monday, two weeks after a Daily Gazette story highlighting some of the businesses that flout the law.
The stores are easy to find — businesses throughout the city have posted signs saying “We buy gold” as gold prices have skyrocketed. Even businesses as unlikely as furniture stores and corner sub shops are advertising that they buy gold.
Police inspected 23 businesses Monday and cited seven of them for violating the secondhand-dealers law, which was written to help police track down thieves.
Business owners are supposed to report all purchases daily and check the sellers’ identification in case police determine the items were stolen. Businesses that don’t follow the law are more attractive to thieves, who prefer to sell their goods in an untraceable manner.
As the price of gold has gone up, many businesses have started buying old jewelry and other items.
But some haven’t bothered to report the purchases to the city, which maintains a database of stolen goods. Only eight businesses in Schenectady report their purchases.
A brief inspection in late March by The Daily Gazette found four other stores, all operating on main commercial stretches, buying used goods without following the rules. Each had a large sign advertising their purchases.
Matthew Douglas, a civilian analyst with the city Police Department, said police had not considered an enforcement sweep before The Gazette published a story on the matter April 2.
When police investigated, they found some stores still buying used goods although their license has expired. Others hadn’t gotten a license. Still others had a license, but didn’t display it or the law’s identification policies — leading police to wonder whether those rules were enforced.
A total of 11 citations were written, police said.
They said detectives and code enforcers will continue to periodically inspect businesses.
When the law was first passed, a city employee used it to shut down several businesses that were not buying used goods. The city had to pay damages in some of those cases, and since then the law has been enforced only occasionally.