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Oswego Common Council approves new pawn shop requirements

Payne Horning
Jason Braun, owner of Wise Guyz pawn shop in Fulton, has to photocopy the driver's license of each customer who sells him property to comply with the city's anti-burglary law.

The Oswego Common Council passed a law that requires second-hand stores, like pawn shops, to keep a detailed record of any items they buy and who sells it to them so police can track down stolen material. And, the stores would also have to keep any items they buy on the shelves for at least a week. It's modeled after similar anti-burglary laws in Syracuse, Onondaga county and Fulton.

Jason Braun, owner of the Wise Guyz pawn shop in Fulton, said the change will mean fewer thieves will be able to exploit unregulated Oswego pawn shops.

"They just think they're getting away with murder out there," Braun said. "They don't have to worry about a police log, where they know here when they put their name in writing, they give us their ID, we make the paperwork -- it all goes back to Fulton PD on a daily basis."

Since Onondaga County passed this kind of law in 2013, Sgt. Richard Flanagan said it has helped his force track down several stolen items.

"Prior to the law being enacted, if detectives needed to check transactions records of a secondhand dealer  they would have to drive to each secondhand dealer store across the county and check the records and now they’re in an electronic database that we can check electronically right from our desk," Flanagan said. "That has assisted us in solving several burglary investigations."

Many secondhand business owners objected to the law before the vote, specifically its proposed $250 annual fee for shop owners that is intended to pay for the extra time police will spend checking the records. The council did lower the fee, but that did not satisfy everyone.

Debra Engelke, who owns Time and Again Books & Tea in Oswego, said her used bookstore is "the dolphin that got caught in the net." Her husband, Raymond, said the extra paperwork and fee could cause them to close the business.

"They are legitimate businesses doing legitimates business, they're paying taxes like everybody else -paying for police protection with those taxes- yet you want to charge them extra for the police doing their normal job," Engelke said. "You don't charge mini marts extra for protection against armed robbery."

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.