ANACORTES, Wash. - Second hand stores can help foil thieves, according to Anacortes Police Sergeant Lou D'Amelio. The stores just need to follow a state law that has been on the books for decades, but proves to be a weak spot for some businesses.
"It is a problem right now. Several of our store owners are not gathering all of the information that they should or could," said Sgt. D'Amelio.
Thieves after quick cash try to unload stolen merchandise at second hand stores, according to police.
State law requires the second hand dealers to record information like the seller's name, date of birth, address, and phone number.
"I can conservatively say 30 to 40 times in the last six months we've gone to a store, observed an item we know to be stolen, and had the shop keeper say, 'I am not sure where I got that from. I bought it from somebody,'" recalled Sgt. D'Amelio.
He said not following the state law to record information hurts police investigations and the community.
"If a store or a community earns a reputation for not properly documenting who is bringing things in to resell, then people who are selling stolen property gravitate to that area," said Sgt. D'Amelio.
At Alley Cat Antiques second hand merchandise is for sale. However before items end up on the antique shop's shelves, the seller must undergo some scrutiny from the store's owner, according to employee Bonita Smith.
"They have to show photo ID with current address, name, everything," said Smith. "Reputation is the only thing you've got in this town, so it is very important that everybody is on the up and up."
Anacortes Police said it is an issue that cities struggle with statewide. In Anacortes, it is a misdemeanor crime if second hand dealers do not record a seller's information. For police the focus right now is on educating second hand stores. Police are letting businesses know that the best practice is to get a photocopy of the seller's ID, and enter the seller's information into an electronic database that can be viewed by law enforcement statewide.