Bill would crack down on sales to secondhand shops

Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would crack down on sales of stolen goods to secondhand stores.

The Senate bill would require those who purchase secondhand goods for resale to log their purchases, photograph the sellers and items, and keep purchased items off the shelves for five days.

Indiana already has similar requirements in place for pawn shops.

While pawn shops and secondhand stores "are two different kinds of places, they create the same market for stolen property," Republican state Sen. Jim Banks of Columbia City told the Journal & Courier.

Banks wrote the bill after hearing from a Columbia City business owner who said items stolen from his property ended up at a secondhand store nearby.

The bill Banks is sponsoring would carry fines of up to $1,000 to shop owners who failed to follow the proposed rules.

Lafayette Police Department crime analyst Steve Hawthorne told the Journal & Courier that he doubts the bill will do much to deter thieves.

"This bill might tighten up loopholes and deter criminals a little bit," Hawthorne said. "But I think no matter what, they will find a way to get rid of the stolen material. If they can't get cash for it, they can barter it for drugs."

Ben Brinn, a Lafayette resident who owns secondhand clothing stores, said he's worried about the effect the bill might have on his businesses.

"We handle hundreds, sometimes thousands of items per week," Brinn told the Journal & Courier. "Having to photograph every item and seller, plus not sell the item for five days, that would just be way, way too burdensome to handle."

Brinn's stores already require clothing sellers to show photo ID and sign a form declaring they own the item they are selling. He said he hopes the Senate will include an exception in the bill for stores like his that sell high-volume, low-value items.

The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Commerce and Economic Development and Technology.

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