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The Columbus Dispatch

Reynoldsburg resale stores must register goods online

Police will look for stolen items

By Elizabeth Gibson

May 11, 2010

Secondhand businesses in Reynoldsburg long have been told that they must register what comes into their shops with the police, to help prevent the sale of stolen goods.

But with the exception of the city's lone pawnshop, almost no one has been following that rule, and the city hasn't been enforcing it.

Reynoldsburg police detective Michael Binder, however, said he plans to crack down, and the Reynoldsburg City Council has given Binder and his colleagues a new tool to do that.

Last night, the City Council passed a law that will require many secondhand stores to log every item they buy on LeadsOnline, an electronic database that the police can search for stolen items. The law applies to used-video-game stores, pawnshops and other resale businesses, such as those that deal in furniture and appliances.

"It just makes the police's job so much simpler, and it's good for the pawnbrokers, too," City Attorney Jed Hood said. "That way, they know they're doing legitimate business."

Comic-book shops, baseball-card sellers, clothing stores and charities such as Goodwill are exempt because monitoring them would be impractical and unproductive, Binder said.

In addition, businesses that buy gold, including check-cashing sites, will have to photograph jewelry with cameras provided by the police department. When businesses unknowingly buy stolen gold, they often ship it to be melted before police have time to identify jewelry from a break-in, Binder said. The photos would provide evidence.

Several other cities in the region subscribe to LeadsOnline and encourage pawnshops to voluntarily register their purchases. Police can search the entire system. If a TV stolen from Ohio is sold to a pawnshop in Tennessee, police still can track it if the shop uses LeadsOnline.

The police, not the businesses, pay for LeadsOnline subscriptions, but the stores must handle the data entry.

Businesses testing the database in Reynoldsburg have said that spending time entering product descriptions and serial numbers can be annoying, but it does seem to help catch crooks.

Binder said he hopes other communities adopt laws that make LeadsOnline mandatory so thieves don't sell their wares in the community next door. Stolen goods listed for sale on Craigslist and eBay are still a challenge, he said.

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