An ordinance that the Ocean County prosecutor has said is central to cracking down on drug-related property crime is now the law in Brick Township.
The township council unanimously passed an ordinance tightening the regulations that must be followed by pawn and secondhand shops, becoming one of the first towns in the county to enact the law, which officials hope will be adopted across the state in an effort to tie New Jersey in with a reporting database used in neighboring states.
No one from the public spoke in opposition to the law during a mandatory public hearing before the council voted.
“Drug users will often break into homes, steal the merchandise, then put it for sale at a pawn shop or secondhand dealer,” said Councilwoman Marianna Pontoriero, who worked on the ordinance for the council.
The new regulations require a secondhand shop to collect the name and address of each person trading a belonging for cash, photograph the item and keep the records for five years. The item itself must stay in the shop for 10 days before it can be sold, and must be entered into an electronic database.
“Ten days will at least allow you to issue a subpoena,” said Pontoriero. “You’re on a very short timeframe to get your items back and identify them.”
“The state of Maryland has adopted this program, the state of Delaware has adopted this program, and there are about 25 towns in New Jersey that have adopted this program,” Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato told the council at its Oct. 8 meeting, when the ordinance was first proposed. “I believe that once our county does it, the other counties will follow our lead and New Jersey will be tied in to Maryland and Delaware.”
Pontoriero said the ordinance also gives the chief of police some discretion to obtain the information from the secondhand dealer as part of an investigation. The chief will also be able to make the decision as to whether a shop violates the ordinance and should have its license suspended. If a shop’s license is suspended, the owner then has the right to a hearing before the township council.
“I am very happening with this tightening of the reigns for secondhand dealers,” said Pontoriero. “My sister was burglarized about a year and a half ago. We did identify the place where the items were sold, but within four days they were gone.”