Second-hand seller state law getting added attention from local law enforcement

Joshua Lawson and father Tom could be called the wizards of Wedgewood, stoves that is. (May 8, 2017)

Joshua Lawson and his father Tom could be called the wizards of Wedgewood, stoves that is.

At their Buckeye Appliance and antique store in Stockton, they’ve restored old stoves for 40 years to their original sparkling splendor.

“The stove behind me is 80 years old and still works. You buy a new stove and they last five to eight years, and you end up throwing them away," Joshua said.

But what if a stove or antique they purchased from a seller was stolen? To keep track of that possibility the state has a law they encourage municipalities to enforce.

According to the California Department of Justice website, the California Pawn and Secondhand Dealer System wants every item that comes into a store tracked by computer, along with a fingerprint scanner and electronic signature pad. It's then stored for 30 days on a database in case it’s identified by law enforcement as stolen.

It’s something dealers like Lawson understand but believe is not reasonable to do.

“We can hold it and do all the paperwork. But how does that stop the people from coming in and selling us the stuff. And what’s the odds the police are going to come here and find something that has been stolen and reported stolen," Lawson said.

In the city of Modesto, antique stores have reached a compromise with police. Only stores selling jewelry worth more than $950 must abide by the law.

It used to be each item coming to a second-hand store was written down on so-called “pawn slips” and then the items were checked by a local enforcement officer.

That practice stopped at the end of 2015, but the electronic way is enforced in Stockton.

“We are in full compliance. We also have a dedicated detective who works exclusively with second-hand dealers and cosigners to make sure they stay in compliance," Rosie Calderon of the Stockton Police Department said.

But Lawson says the police should enforce the law on the criminals first, not on him.

“You can steal something and your back out of jail the next day. So maybe fix that problem," Lawson said.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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