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Onondaga county executive will veto secondhand dealer law

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Onondaga county executive will veto secondhand dealer law
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Onondaga County's executive is rejecting a law intended to track stolen property. It would impose reporting requirements on secondhand shops, including antique and art dealers. Our Kat De Maria tells us how the law would work and why one dealer says it should not apply to him and others like him.

ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Edward Becker has been dealing antiques for nearly 40 years. Over time, he's amassed quite the collection.

"I collect mid-century modern paintings, abstract paintings, American, European, Asian ceramics, European furniture. I have a wide range of things from all categories," Becker said.

Those categories, however, don't include many things that are typically stolen. That's why Becker took issue with a law that would require all secondhand dealers in Onondaga County report each item they buy to the sheriff's office. The law mirrors one already in place in Syracuse.

"It has led to a number of arrests and recovery of stolen property," said Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler.

Fowler says burglaries in Syracuse are up more than 30 percent over last year. After Onondaga County lawmakers passed the secondhand dealer law last week, he and the sheriff said they hoped it would help bring that and other figures down.

"If someone burglarizes a house, normally they're doing it to steal something to sell for whatever reason. This kind of minimizes the locations they can go to sell this property," Fowler said.

"It gives us a much better opportunity to get stolen property returned. And for those dealers who are honest and aboveboard, which is the vast majority of them, this is not going to be a big problem," said Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh.

Becker disagrees.

"I buy easily a thousand items a year. To have to do that because they want to track gold and silver, when I buy very little gold and silver, let them track the gold and silver buyers. They don't have to go after the antique dealers," he said.

Becker and others spoke out against the secondhand dealer law at a public hearing Thursday. Afterward, County Executive Joanie Mahoney said she would veto the law and send it back for rewriting.

"This, I think, shows that she is willing to listen to people and she recognizes that this is sort of a Draconian law," Becker said.

Still, Becker says he looks forward to the revised law he hopes will stop some people from collecting other people's possessions illegally.

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