Harford Co. to Crack Down on Pawn Shops to Curb Opioid Epidemic

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Harford County wants to change the rules of buying and selling in hopes of cutting off the source of drug money for some heroin addicts.

County officials call it “thinking outside the box.” The heroin epidemic in Harford County is getting worse. They’ve already lost one person this week and hope cutting off the money supply could turn things around.

Purse snatching, robberies and break-ins in Harford County go hand-in-hand with the explosive number of heroin overdoses.

“Retail theft is running rampant pretty much,” said Corporal Justin Blubaugh of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff says addicts are selling stolen items at pawn shops and it’s time to crack down.

“It’s thinking outside the box type of thinking. Anything and everything we can do, we want to bring to the forefront,” said Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler.

A new revision to the county code would require pawn shops to install cameras and keep the video for 150 days, no longer accept gift cards, document and photograph new-in-box items and document altered serial numbers.

“I think it will limit their resources, where they’ll be able to get their money from to go out and support their addiction,” Blubaugh said.

Several pawn shop owners say they believe this bill targets them unfairly and the new rules could drive them out of the County.

“They’re looking at the pawn shops as the problem, the problem’s not the pawn shops,” said Jim Mills, who owns Starlite Pawn on Route 40.

But the sheriff’s office believe’s they’re part of the problem. Mills and four others were indicted by a grand jury this week. His shop and associated pawn brokers are accused of buying tens of thousands of dollars in stolen goods. Exactly what the County is hoping to eliminate.

None of the pawn shop owners knew about the proposed rule changes before WJZ told them. They say they’ll be at the next council meeting.

If the new rules were violated, pawn shop owners would face a $1,000 dollar or up to 90 days in jail.

More from Devin Bartolotta
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