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First reading for Secondhand Dealers Bill

First reading for Secondhand Dealers Bill

The Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Bill, part of a government package to combat property crime, had its first reading in Parliament this evening.

Justice Minister Phil Goff said the Bill's main objectives were to make it harder for criminals to dispose of stolen goods through secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers, and to make easier for Police to recover stolen goods and solve property crimes.

"This Bill represents a significant advance in the campaign against property crime, which this Government is committed to," Mr Goff said.

"Making it harder to dispose of stolen property, and increasing the chances of detection of those trying to sell such goods, is vital to winning the fight against property crime.

"This Bill requires dealers to sight ID such as a driver's licence, and to record the contact details and signature of everyone selling goods to them.

"Those requirement will increase the risk for people knowingly trying to pass on stolen goods, and also assist police in tracing where people who unwittingly pass on stolen goods got those goods from.

"The integrity of the licensing system will also be improved to make it harder for people convicted of dishonesty to work in the secondhand trade.

"Lifetime licenses will be replaced with ones valid for five years and will only be renewed after the applicant has had a character check.

"Staff accepting goods on behalf of the business, or supervising people who accept goods on behalf of the business, will be required to have certificates indicating they do not have convictions for dishonesty.

"Licenses and certificates will be in photo ID form, with details recorded on a centralised electronic register, rather than the present paper-based system which, in the case of secondhand dealers, has largely broken down.

"Each business will have to keep its own record of the names, addresses, phone numbers and certificate numbers of employees, which have to be available to police on request.

"This new regime is backed up by a considerable increase in the penalties for acting as an unlicensed dealer or pawnbroker. The current maximum penalty of $200, is no deterrent to offending. The maximum penalty under this Bill will be $20,000."

Mr Goff said a new schedule would be drawn up of goods considered by police to be at risk of being stolen. The current list dates from 1963 and is hopelessly out of date. Goods on the schedule must be retained by the dealer for two weeks, unless they are being sold on behalf of a client, to allow time for stolen goods with distinguishing characteristics to be identified by the dealer, police carrying out an inspection, or a customer.

Under the Bill, people carrying on a business running markets or fairs will also be required to keep records showing when and where they operated; who was selling secondhand articles or scrap metal, or who acted as a pawnbroker at that market or fair.

Mr Goff said the Bill had received strong support from the New Zealand Licensed Traders Association, individual secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers, the Insurance Council, and the Consumers Institute.

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