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Secondhand Dealers Bill puts squeeze on burglars

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice

1 July 2004

Media Statement

Secondhand Dealers Bill puts squeeze on burglars

Legislation passed by Parliament today will bring secondhand dealing and pawnbroking into the 21st Century and make it harder for burglars to dispose of stolen property via such dealers, says Justice Minister Phil Goff.

"The Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Bill is part of wider government action to help Police crack down on burglary; efforts which are already resulting in significantly fewer burglaries and more cases being solved. This new law can only result in further improvements," Mr Goff said.

"There have been a number of recent legislative initiatives aimed, in whole or part, at combating property crime, including the recent DNA legislation, which can now be used to link suspects to burglaries.

"This Bill will make it harder for criminals to dispose of stolen goods through secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers, and make it easier for police to recover stolen goods and to solve property crimes.

"Among the measures established by this Bill are:
- Dealers will have to sight approved photo ID and record the contact details and signature of everyone selling them goods;
- Five-year licenses for dealers and pawnbrokers will replace current lifetime ones, renewable only after dishonesty/character checks;
- Staff accepting goods, or supervising the acceptance of goods, will require certificates indicating they do not have dishonesty convictions;
- Licenses and certificates will be in photo ID form, with details recorded on a centralised electronic register;
- Businesses will have to keep records of employees' names, addresses, phone numbers and certificate numbers;
- Internet auctioneers and promoters of markets and fairs will have to keep records of who is selling secondhand goods through their event;
- The existing, outdated list of furs, suits and gramophones will be replaced with a more generalised list of goods that must be retained for 14 days to enable police checks. The new list includes items frequently targeted by burglars such as compact discs, computers, and DVD players.
- Police able to inspect on demand all registers and goods held for sale;
- Penalties will be increased from the current maximum of $200 to $20,000 for unlicensed dealing or pawnbroking, or $10,000 for not keeping a register.

"This Bill also offers significant consumer protection by improving existing provisions in the Pawnbrokers Act 1908, which is hopelessly outdated.

"Pawnbrokers will be required to keep unredeemed items for at least three months. Unclaimed items must then be offered for sale via public or internet auction, unless the pawnbroker and pledger reach agreement for an immediate and unconditional cash sale. If the redemption price is not reached at auction, the pawnbroker can then sell it by other means," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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