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Suffolk County Pawnshop Bill Gets Support from Anti-Drug...

Suffolk County Pawnshop Bill Gets Support from Anti-Drug Advocates
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Many heroin addicts pawn stolen goods to pay for drugs.

Suffolk County officials want to crack down on the sale of stolen items to pawnshops. They say it's often addicts who try to do this and a proposed bill would make it harder for them.

Steve Chassman is the Executive Director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency. He says heroin and other opioid use has been on the rise on the island in recent years, a trend seen in other parts of the state and across the country as well.

"We've never been as busy as we've been in the last five to seven years. We've gone from seven years ago, seeing four, 450 people a month, to last month, we saw over 1,100 people," Chassman said.

Tim Sini is the Assistant Deputy County Executive for Public Safety in Suffolk. He said there's been an increase in the sale of stolen goods to pawnshops in recent years that is  helping to fuel Long Island's heroin epidemic. Sini says many of the sales are from addicts pawning stolen goods to pay for drugs. 

"Pawnshops in Suffolk County are acting as fences, unwittingly perhaps. Over they last year, we've recovered over $1 million in stolen goods from pawnshops," Sini said.

The proposed bill would require pawnshop owners to photograph the sellers' IDs, as well as the pawned item. It would also prohibit deleting information from electronic items for 21 days, and require stores to keep records for seven years, instead of three.

Sini said the original bill would have also required a photograph of the seller at the store. Pawnshop owners opposed this part of the bill, so Sini said the bill was changed to include a photograph of an ID rather than a person as a compromise. 

A lobbyist for pawnshop owners in Albany has not yet returned a request for comment.

The bill goes before legislative committees next month.