HARRISBURG – The House Consumer Affairs Committee unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Jim Rigby (R-Cambria/Somerset) that would allow for greater tracking by law enforcement of stolen jewelry and other items containing precious metals, as well as fight the opioid epidemic as the sales often fund the purchase of illegal drugs.
“During the 35 years I spent as a police officer and chief, I handled many reports of stolen property that often carried a great deal of sentimental value for the victims. Wedding rings and other pieces passed down from generation to generation were stolen to fuel drug habits, and the current law offers little time to recover the property,” Rigby said.
House Bill 350 would amend Act 17 of 1984, the Precious Metal Sale Regulation Law, to require dealers in precious metals to maintain the purchased items for 10 business days, as well as a photocopy of the seller’s proof of identity and pictures of each item purchased.
If a dealer purchases stolen property, these requirements would facilitate identification of the rightful owner and promote prosecution of the offender even if the items have been sold, melted down or are otherwise no longer available.
“Of course, the drug trade is driving many of the thefts that result in the sale of stolen precious metals to dealers within the Commonwealth. Tightening the law would result in lessening users’ financial resources, which would help to combat the opioid epidemic that ravages our district and the nation,” Rigby added.
The bill would also require dealers to maintain a copy of their annual license application at each place of business for inspection by the public. This change would combat transient dealers who set up temporary shops in hotels to buy gold and other precious metals before quickly leaving town, inhibiting investigative efforts to track down stolen property that may have passed through their hands.
The bill now advances to the full House for consideration.
Representative Jim Rigby
71st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans