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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 8, 2016 03:02 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Theft of Precious Metals
I will be reintroducing Senate Bill 427 of last session. Law enforcement agencies in my district and other districts are reporting a frequently occurring crime involving drug addiction and property theft. The officers explain that thieves break into people’s homes during the day, steal gold and silver jewelry, and then sell the jewelry to so-called “cash-for-gold” stores in order to obtain money for illegal drugs. The victims of these crimes often do not discover the theft before the precious metals dealer has melted down the jewelry and sold the metal. When the victims discover the theft but cannot prove to the dealer that the jewelry was stolen, the victim must buy back his or her own jewelry.

The law enforcement community requests additional time and authority in order to stop home burglaries as a source of drug money. The Precious Metals Act, 73 P.S. §§ 1931-1942, currently requires precious metals dealers to submit a report of every transaction to the district attorney and retain the metals from each reported transaction for five business days. If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that certain precious metals are stolen, the officer has no authority to seize the metal to prevent it from being melted and sold. The law enforcement officer may only issue a “written notice” to the dealer, which requires the dealer to retain the precious metals for seven days. During that time, the law enforcement officer must approach a busy district attorney’s office, and the district attorney must obtain a court order directing the dealer to retain the precious metal for a longer period of time pending investigation.

My legislation, which passed the Senate unanimously during last session, will require cash-for-gold dealers to retain each item of precious metal for ten business days, instead of five, after purchasing it. This extension of time will enable burglary victims to discover and report the theft and will enable police to investigate the theft. My legislation will further enable the police to seize the precious metals when they have probable cause to believe that the metals are stolen. The courts will continue to decide whether the precious metals should be retained as evidence of a crime or returned to the precious metals dealer.

Please join me in sponsoring this important measure to stop drug addicts from invading our homes to fund their habits.

Introduced as SB60