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5:01 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

NYS Raises Fine For Stealing Pets

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Credit npr.org

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) New York on Wednesday raised the fine for trying to steal someone's pet to $1,000. 

The amendment to state law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo was effective immediately. The old maximum fine of $200 was set in 1970, according to the governor's office. 

``For many New Yorkers, a pet can be an extension of their family, which is why pet theft is a particularly heartless offense,'' Cuomo said. ``Increasing the penalties for stealing or harming dogs, cats and other animals is an important way that we can crack down on this crime.'' 

It's a crime under the law to remove a collar or identification from a pet without the owner's permission, to seize an animal under its owner's control or to transport one without authorization in order to sell or kill it. 

The American Kennel Club says it tracked from news accounts and customer reports more than 590 pet thefts last year, ranging from puppies being stuffed into purses at pet stores to purebreds snatched from parked cars and shelters. 

Other New York legislation signed this week makes shining a laser light at an airplane that can disorient the pilot a crime. It's already illegal under federal law. 

A new statute against aggravated harassment, defined as communicating threats of physical harm against people or property by computer or other means, replaces one struck down this year by New York's Court of Appeals as too unconstitutionally vague. Sponsors said there were 7,600 open cases statewide where it was the most serious charge. 

Other new laws expand the definition of criminal stalking to include the unauthorized use of a GPS or other electronic device to track someone and increase the penalty for public lewdness when an adult intentionally exposes himself to a child under 16.