With gold prices hovering near record highs, jewelry thieves may find themselves more tempted than ever to snatch the precious metal, and that's why last year Connecticut lawmakers decided to toughen a statute that outlaws "cash for gold" transactions.
For years, gold buyers in Connecticut have been forbidden from using cash to purchase gold and other precious metals and stones. The idea was to create a paper trail in the event a piece of stolen jewelry was sold to a pawn shop or second-hand dealer.
“If they do pay cash it’s a misdemeanor now in the state of Connecticut,” said Tom Sweeney of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. "The law is very, very clear. A precious metal dealer cannot pay cash for anything they receive. They must pay by check.”
The price of gold Monday was about $1,663.31 per ounce.
The News 4 I-team used a hidden camera and a 1-ounce gold coin to determine if dealers in Connecticut were following the law.
The results were mixed.
The I-team offered to sell the coin for cash at five different locations in the Hartford area. Two of the five dealers were adamant that they would only pay by check.
The remaining three offered to skirt the law and pay cash.
While on hidden camera, an antique dealer at Hartford’s Bacon Antiques said he knew he was breaking the law but offered cash anyway.
The dealer, who refused to give his name, first insisted the law required him to pay by check. After a few minutes of bargaining, he changed his mind.
"If you want, I'll give you the cash, as long as you don't tell the police that I paid cash," he said.
Connecticut law also forbids a gold buyer from advertising cash payments, but News 4 found business cards and website ads for one dealer claiming, “We give you the cash!”
While on hidden camera, the owner of a business called Gold Cash-In initially offered to pay by check, but after a few minutes of bargaining he changed his mind.
"I probably could do half-and-half. Just if you need a little cash, you know,” said Richard McCormack, who owns Gold Cash-In.
Even a partial cash payment for gold is illegal in Connecticut.
Once informed of the I-team investigation, the dealer explained that his cash offer was illegal and said he should have known better.
“That wasn’t the law, the law needs you to give a check,” McCormack said.
Hartford's Bacon Antiques refused to comment on the story.