Police Minister Bob Wiese said the new Pawnbrokers and Second-hand Dealers' legislation would help stem the annual multi-million dollar trade of stolen goods in Western Australia.
The Minister said the law - an integral part of the Government's Serious Crime legislative package - came into effect from midnight tonight and would be an added tool for police to reduce the unacceptable levels of housebreaking and burglary in WA.
"This legislation will assist police and major sections of the pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers industry to ensure they are not targeted by criminals as an outlet for stolen property," Mr Wiese said.
"In the past, police have been hampered in their operations to combat the increasing trade of stolen goods because there was no requirement for pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers to maintain adequate records.
"This legislation will help protect the industry with strict guidelines on recording details of the goods being presented and an identity check of the people attempting to sell or pawn goods."
Mr Wiese said police would be able to maintain a constant vigil on the trade of stolen goods because all transactions had to be entered on to a computer system linked to the CIB Dealers' Squad.
"Dealers will have to forward the details of their transactions on a daily basis which will assist police to find stolen goods quickly and to track down those people responsible," he said.
"The onus rests with the public to ensure they assist police by recording the serial numbers of their electronic equipment or by having them engraved and descriptions of jewellery."
Mr Wiese said under the legislation any goods which had been purchased outright would have to remain on the dealer's premises for 14 days before being resold while police checked their records.
He said pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers would be prohibited from receiving goods from any person:
* under 18 years of age; and -
* who had not presented the required identification.
Dealers convicted of breaking the new regulations faced increased penalties up to $5,000 or 12 months in gaol. The fine for a body corporate would be up to $20,000.
The Minister said the new legislation would give police the power to refuse to issue a pawnbroker's or second-hand dealer's licence, to revoke, suspend or place restrictions on a licence.
He said police would also have the ability to enter pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers' premises and inspect goods and records kept at those premises without a warrant.
"There is a public perception that the industry has become a mechanism for disposing of stolen property, a perception which the industry itself has been fighting hard to remove," Mr Wiese said.
"This legislation will enable a more effective police crackdown on burglary and the trade of stolen goods and provide dealers with the ways and means to cast off an unwanted stigma."
Media contact: Mark Thompson 222 9595 or 222 9211