Report calls scrap yards, secondhand stores 'cash machines' for addicts

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- A report from a state watchdog says lax oversight has allowed New Jersey's pawn shops, scrap yards and secondhand stores to serve as "cash machines" for addicts looking to swap stolen goods for drug money.

The report released Tuesday by the State Commission of Investigation says regulations governing such businesses are "scattershot, inadequate and unevenly enforced."

The commission says the industry is being exploited by criminals and mob associates. It says existing laws are routinely flouted.

The report recommends several changes, including giving state police the authority to license secondhand stores and requiring those stores to upload details of all transactions to an online database.

Several pawn shop and scrap yard owners responded to the report, saying they were being unfairly maligned.