Task Force Would Evaluate Systems Used to Track Stolen Jewelry
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter and Daniel Benson to maintain the integrity of the sale of secondhand jewelry and precious metals in New Jersey was released by an Assembly panel on Monday.
“Individuals who wish to purchase used jewelry from a legitimate establishment should be able to do so with the confidence that the merchant’s products were obtained lawfully,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This task force will help get stolen goods off the market and give consumers peace of mind.”
The bill (A-2224) would establish an 11-member “Secondhand Valuables Transaction Reporting Task Force,” which would study and make recommendations on programs and systems used to identify and track used jewelry acquired through theft and other deceptive practices. The sponsors’ intent is to make the state more efficient in its recovery of jewelry and precious metals, facilitate their return to their rightful owners and reduce attempts to steal and quickly sell the items.
The recommendations of the task force shall include a recommendation as to whether a uniform, electronic state- or county-wide program or system – such as, for example, the Regional Automated Property Information Database (RAPID) pilot program implemented in Ocean County – would facilitate communication among law enforcement agencies and improve reporting, tracking and enforcement of laws concerning secondhand and used jewelry, watch and precious metal transactions. In making this recommendation, the task force shall give consideration to the benefits and drawbacks for buyers, sellers and law enforcement.
The task force also shall make a recommendation with regard to implementing a program or system industry-wide in New Jersey for all retailers involved in buying or selling secondhand jewelry or watches or precious metals, including pawnbrokers and auctioneers.
“New Jersey’s laws regarding secondhand transactions are effective only if they are enforced,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “A task force dedicated to this purpose will help our state improve this market for buyers and sellers alike, while also facilitating the process of returning stolen items to their rightful owners.”
The task force shall consist of the following members: the attorney general; the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police; three county prosecutors, with one each from the northern, central and southern regions of the state; three municipal law enforcement officers, with one each representing a municipality in the northern, central and southern regions of the state; and three public members – a used jewelry retailer, a precious metal buyer and a licensed pawnbroker – to be appointed by the governor.
The task force would issue a report of its findings and recommendations to the governor and the legislature within six months of its initial meeting and would expire upon the submission of its report.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, of which Benson is chair.