Businesses buying second-hand jewelry or electronics will now need to hold onto their merchandise for 10 days before reselling.
Members of the Town Board approved a second-hand dealers law they hope will provide police investigators with a tool to track stolen goods fenced in Rotterdam. The law was unanimously passed after a brief discussion Wednesday and goes into effect immediately.
Among other things, the local legislation requires all second-hand dealers to hold on to purchased items for 10 days and send police a report of the inventory they take in each day. The legislation also requires second-hand dealers to secure a license through the town, require all sellers to present valid identification before selling their wares and allow police to inspect their records during regular business hours.
Board member Robert Godlewski was the only board member to raise issues with the law. He questioned whether the broad-ranging description of the legislation would apply to all second-hand merchandise, such as model trains sold and resold at a business on Hamburg Street.
Deputy Chief William Manikas assured him the law only pertains to merchandise that is typically stolen. He said the police will specifically apply the law to jewelry, precious metals and electronics, rather than for items typically sold by hobby shops.
“We have no intention of enforcing it that way,” he said.
Rotterdam Police have identified 14 businesses that will be subjected to the law and will dispatch officers to each in order to walk owners through the steps they need to take to come into compliance. He anticipates enforcing the law sometime within the next 30 days.
The law drew stern rebuke from several area jewelry stores, largely due to the increased reporting component and the extended waiting period. Some said the 10-day waiting period would put them at a competitive disadvantage when buying gold and make them vulnerable to market whims.
In response, town officials compiled a list of Capital Region municipalities with second-hand dealer laws that include a 10-day waiting period or more, including Colonie, Cohoes, and Amsterdam. The city of Buffalo has a 21-day waiting period, according to material compiled by the town.
“I truly believe 10 days is fair,” Manikas said.
But this hasn’t alleviated the concerns of some local second-hand dealers. Michael Hug of Jewels in Rotterdam Square mall said the 10-day waiting period will likely crush everything that he has worked to build since starting his business 16 years ago.
“It took 16 years to build this business up and now they’re going to knock it down,” he said. “It’s going to cripple us.”
Hug said he regularly pays out upward of $7,000 in a day to buy gold and makes about a 5 percent profit by selling it to smelters. He estimates he’ll run out of cash to purchase more gold within five days.
Even worse, Hug said he’ll have to guess the price he’ll get for gold when he finally can sell the jewelry he takes in. With the price of gold fluctuating on a daily basis, he said the purchases could become a major loss when he’s finally able to sell them.
“I could lose thousands of dollars,” he said.