Nine Nassau businesses, including the Home Depot store on Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, have been charged by District Attorney Denis Dillon with violating a local law that prohibits the sale of box cutters to minors and also regulates the manner in which they are displayed.
The charges are the result of a sting operation by the District Attorney's Major Offense Bureau, the intent of which was to determine how well local businesses were complying with the law, which was adopted by the county legislature in 1997.
In all, 16 different hardware and retail stores were visited by undercover officers from the district attorney's office.
"In six cases, we videotaped and observed box cutters for sale that were not contained in sealed and locked cases, were not located behind the service counters with access limited only to store employees, and were not stored in any other manner which restricted access to box cutters by customers, as is required by law," Dillon said.
"In nine instances, we had stores sell box cutter knives to undercover shoppers who are 15 and 16 years old. Under the law, stores are prohibited from selling such items to individuals under the age of 18."
The District Attorney added, "all too frequently, these items have been used by youths in assaults and robberies... it's important, therefore, that access to minors is severely limited."
In addition to the local Home Depot, Home Depots in East Meadow and Jericho were also cited; as were Sears stores in Valley Stream, Garden City, and Massapequa; two Caldor stores, in Levittown and Freeport; and the Big Kmart store in Valley Stream.
The county's box cutter law, passed in the wake of several incidents in local schools, was sponsored by legislator Richard Nicolello.
In addition to box cutters, the provision also relates to the sale and display of utility and other razor-type knives.
If convicted, a violation of this local law is punishable by up to a $250 fine for the first offense. Subsequent violations are punishable by a $500 fine, three months in jail, or both.