ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Federal investigators say two pawnshop owners took advantage of drug addicts to make them more than $15 million over five years. The criminal complaint was released Monday.
It says the owners knew about their drug habit and paid them to steal and that crimes like this are making the opioid epidemic worse.
Randy Cimino used to steal items from stores and sell them to pawn shops for drug money. He said the pawnshop owners know the drug addicts need money to keep up their habit and they take advantage of them.
Cimino is now the president of Gates to Recovery, a Rochester organization that helps addicts get clean, but he remembers his days as a booster all too well. A booster is an addict who steals merchandise and sells it to pawn shops for money.
“I would go to the pawnshop early in the morning, I would meet the owner at the pawnshop and they would give me a list of things that they wanted and at that point, I would go and get high and I would go about my day boosting at different retail stores,” Cimino said.
Cimino also said he had to steal every day to feed his habit.
“You got guys encouraging you to do this, telling you what to steal and how much you can get for it. You sit there needing money for the drug; you really have no choice but to do it,” he said.
He said being a booster was easier than stealing from family or friends or doing home burglaries. He said the latest pawnshop busts brought him back to those days.
“When I see what’s going on right now it makes me sick because I was that guy and I feel bad for the addicts that were involved and stuck. They’re stuck, they have to live and that’s the only thing they have. They’re probably madder at the police than anyone that these guys got arrested because that’s their money source,” Cimino said.
The documents also say as of September 2019, 522 people have overdosed in Monroe County this year — 228 of those people have a history of stealing and selling to pawn shops.
Cimino said anyone struggling with opioid addi