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Houston Chronicle

Huntsville police recover $50,000 in stolen jewelry

By Peggy O'Hare

January 26, 2010

Huntsville police recovered $50,000 worth of jewelry stolen from a local family's home thanks to a database that allows investigators to search for items sold to pawn shops nationwide.

Huntsville police detective Marvin Hyvl said he recovered the first stolen items within 15 minutes of beginning his search. The stolen items included designer watches valued at $27,000 and $20,000 apiece and a diamond bracelet with both monetary and sentimental value. All items were returned to the owners.

Hyvl credited the quick recovery to an online database known as LeadsOnline, which searches for stolen goods, including serial and model numbers, as well as descriptions of property. Police have real-time access to the information nationwide, no matter where items are sold, because pawn shops, second-hand stores, Internet sales drop-off stores and scrap metal recyclers report their transactions to the database.

The database can also search eBay, an online bidding site, by using stolen items' serial numbers.

The Huntsville resident who owned the jewelry kept track of the items' serial and model numbers and was able to provide that information to police, which also helped lead to the recovery. Jewelry owners and those with expensive electronic items are urged to write down all numbers associated with an item and to photograph the item as well.

The Dallas-based LeadsOnline database also includes LeadsOnlabs, a system designed to track 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 shop customers against a list of known terrorists and narcotics traffickers.

For more information on LeadsOnline call (800) 311-2656

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