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New Erie County law regulating jewelry sales criticized as cumbersome

A new law regulating jewelry sales to pawn shops and jewelry stores in Erie County is being criticized as cumbersome and onerous.

The local law, which was unanimously adopted by the Erie County Legislature last week, would impose a 14-day restriction on the resale of secondhand jewelry purchases made by those businesses. They also would be required to upload identifying information for each item they buy – including photographs, serial numbers and the name and image of the seller – which then would be uploaded onto a database accessible to law enforcement searching for any stolen items.

The proposed law is subject to approval or disapproval by the county executive. If enacted into law, it would be enforced by the Sheriff’s Office.

“Hopefully, I can keep up with this law, but what are the fines going to be if I make a mistake?” asked Todd Scanlon of Scanlon Jewelers in Williamsville.

“I have a colleague who bought two truckloads of coins from a collector ... There were probably a million coins in there. How do you take a picture of a million coins?” said Scanlon.

In addition, the Main Street jeweler said he found aspects of the proposed law to be confusing, noting that it was clear lawmakers had not reached out to local business owners when drafting the legislation.

“They went from no requirements to this cumbersome law that’s going to make it impossible to buy,” Scanlon added.

The law’s main sponsor, Majority Leader Joseph C. Lorigo, on Monday acknowledged the lack of industry input. However, the West Seneca Conservative Party member also noted that there was no representation from the jewelry and pawn shop industries at a March 18 public hearing on the local law, which was held by the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee. The hearing was advertised in local newspapers, Lorigo added.

“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t hear from members of the industry prior to the law’s passage. I would have loved to have heard from them and worked with them,” he said.

Even though the law has been adopted by the County Legislature, Lorigo said, it is not too late to make changes, particularly after a conversation he had Monday with a local coin dealer who contacted him.

“I was in a meeting with him for over an hour discussing his issues with the law and, to be perfectly honest, he opened my eyes to a couple of things,” Lorigo said.

He said he also plans to meet with others in the business next in an effort to clarify any confusing parts of the legislation and, possibly, clock in a new version of the law.