December 1, 2010
Fort Wayne, Ind., Nov. 29, 2010 – An online crime-solving tool helped Detectives at the Fort Wayne Police Department solve a string of frightening residential burglaries that happened while citizens were asleep in their own beds. The four main suspects in the case were arrested during the Thanksgiving Holiday. LeadsOnline, a nationwide online system that records secondhand transactions, kept record of the reported stolen items and alerted the police when some of the items turned up at a secondhand store. Ultimately, that information led police to one of the individuals involved in the thefts, which in turn allowed police to solve this theft ring.
"These cases all had the same M.O.," explains Detective Joseph Lyon, of the Investigative Support Division at Fort Wayne PD. "and that was the fact that the residents were home when these thefts took place. Since this string of burglaries started in May 2009, I would occasionally get a LeadsOnline result on an item that I could track back to one of those incidents, but it was never the same person."
During follow-up interviews with those individuals, Detective Lyon says he would discover that those people were pawning the stolen items for other individuals. But, of course, those being questioned would not reveal the names of people who have provided them the items to sell.
But in September of this year, all that changed when uniformed officers apprehended an individual involved in the burglaries. And he named names. And then those other suspects started naming more names of people involved in the theft ring.
Using information provided by those individuals, Det. Lyon turned to LeadsOnline and was able to match items in the system to items sold by these suspects. Through LeadsOnline, Det. Lyon recovered a video camera that was reported stolen in mid-October. Soon after, an exact match for a stolen digital camera popped up tying the suspects to a recent four-home invasion.
"These two most recent LeadsOnline recoveries are going to be the key factor in our obtaining a search warrant for the home of the person we believe is the central bad guy in all of this," explains Det. Lyon.
As it turns out, the digital camera that was recovered belonged to a single mother who had family photos still on the memory card that was stolen along with the camera.
LeadsOnline uses a variety of ways to search for stolen property, including serial and model numbers, as well as descriptions. Because the system is an online network that pawn shops and secondhand stores report to, police have real-time access to the information, no matter where the item is sold. So, if an item is stolen in Fort Wayne and sold across town or across the country, police will be immediately alerted to its location.
Use of the LeadsOnline system was implemented in Fort Wayne in 2008. Pawn shops and secondhand stores to upload their transaction information electronically to LeadsOnline, and that allows police to work much faster and across jurisdictional boundaries. There is no cost to businesses to report to LeadsOnline and because the system works even when the detectives aren't logged on, it means more detectives can spend their time solving more cases.
"You can't imagine how excited I was when I received the alert from LeadsOnline that helped crack this case," says Det. Lyon. "We have been using LeadsOnline non-stop in this effort and have been able to trace and recover several pieces of property."
LeadsOnline is the nation's largest online investigative system used by more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies to recover stolen property and solve crimes. Each day, millions of items are added to the LeadsOnline database by businesses, including second-hand stores, scrap metal recyclers, pawnshops, and Internet drop-off stores across all 50 states. Those records are instantly available to law enforcement agencies, meaning crimes can be solved in seconds, not months. The LeadsOnline system, compatible with the NCIC, serves as an indispensible, efficient, and money-saving resource for detectives because it provides a cross-jurisdictional, instantaneous, and accurate database that stops criminals from escaping detection by selling stolen items in another city. An official eBay partner, LeadsOnline helps prevent illegal transactions on the eBay website by giving law enforcement access to the world's largest online marketplace through automatic upload of all eBay transactions into the LeadsOnline database. LeadsOnline also includes LeadsOnlabs, a system for tracking those involved in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamines; a Metal Theft Investigation System designed to track copper and other metal thefts; and cross-checks names of pawn customers against the OFAC SDN list of known terrorists and narcotics traffickers. Each year, LeadsOnline is credited with recovering millions of dollars in stolen goods and solving thousands of crimes that are often associated with bigger crimes, such as homicide, identity theft, and arson. Based in Dallas and led by President and CEO Dave Finley, LeadsOnline works with thousands of agencies throughout the country, including the New York City Police Department, the Dallas Police Department, and the San Francisco Police Department.