The Albany County Legislature has rejected a proposal backed by the district attorney to require the electronic reporting of transactions of precious metal exchange dealers and secondhand dealers.
Local Law B, crafted by Majority Leader Gary Domalewicz, failed 20-18 Monday night.
“This legislation will help law enforcement recover stolen merchandise from burglaries or robberies in Albany County. It is another tool that law enforcement can use to help put the criminals who are doing these crimes behind bars. This is a consumer protection bill,” says Domalewicz.
Earlier on Monday, the lawmaker joined his fellow Democrat, Albany County District Attorney David Soares, at a press conference endorsing the legislation. Soares said it’s time to act.
“We as a county need to strengthen our laws and provide greater controls in secondhand shops that appear to be the locations where so many of the stolen products that we’re seeing being transacted in after markets,” says Soares.
Soares says the county has a high conviction rate for property crimes, but:
“Trust me when I say that our citizens who are victims of these crimes want their property back, even more so then the outcomes that we are finding in court,” says Soares.
Albany Police Commander Ed Donohue says the current system lacks efficiency. He says businesses fill out slips with sales information and take them to the police department every two weeks or so. Under the proposal, Donohue says the county sheriff would create a database for all precious metal exchange dealers in Albany County.
“So now they would be able to scan them and then electronically put them in a database that could be reviewed, and the database you know, they would come up even quicker. So it would be very useful and beneficial for law enforcement as well as the owner of the property to get the property back,” says Donohue.
Opponents of the legislation waited outside the DA’s office during Monday’s press conference. Mark Kriss is a partner at the law firm of Kriss, Kriss and Brignola, which represents Olde Saratoga Coin on Central Avenue in Albany. Kriss voiced concern about the cost of electronic reporting. He also called the legislation unconstitutional and biased.
“Poor people who use pawnbrokers essentially as a bank are going to have their transactions subject to 100 percent disclosure versus middle class and upper middle class people whose disclosures, except for $10,000 cash transactions, are private,” says Kriss.
Kriss says there is no reason to require 100 percent disclosure or compliance costs for Albany businesses.
“If you have a wrongdoer, it is not that difficult to get on a public bus or take your car and go over to Rensselaer County or go down to Greene County or go up to Saratoga County and circumvent whatever this is supposedly helping to weed out,” says Kriss.
District Attorney Soares says that’s not a valid argument.
“Just about every organization, every company that is operating a legitimate business, has requirements for inventory. So the idea that secondhand shops cannot do this or that it is going to be inconvenient is just absurd,” says Soares.
Soares and Domalewicz did not return requests for comment on the proposal’s rejection and the bill’s future Tuesday morning.