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SPD buys new crime fighting software

By Deborah Feldman

July 6, 2010

SEATTLE – The Seattle Police Department has now purchased a program it spent several months testing over the winter. Last December the department launched a trial run of a software program called LeadsOnline, and now detectives say they can't believe they went so long without it.

Detective Steve Owings works in SPD's Burglary and Theft Unit. After working with the LeadsOnline program for several months, he says he's sold.

"I think its the best tool that we use, honestly," Owings says. "It gives you a ton of information about stuff, and it's so quick, that's the thing. And then once I get the information, if it's something I'm specifically looking for, I can call that pawn shop and they can give me more information and I can go there and get what I need from them."

Detective Owings says using LeadsOnline has changed the job of detectives in his unit. For years, they would have to drive to pawn shops in Seattle and physically thumb through all of the receipts to see if any matched items that were reported stolen. Now, if they have even basic information about some stolen property, they can sit at their own desk, and simply enter it into the system which is linked to pawn shops across the country, and even eBay.

More than three thousand law enforcement agencies nationwide already use the private data base, and Detective Owings says it has already helped his department crack a lot of cases, including one where $18,000 of antique jewelry had been stolen.

"It's a tool that I use every day," he says. "I'd be willing to pay out of my own pocket to pay for the system. I mean honestly, because it's something that we use and it gets results."

Detective Owings say keeping detailed information about your own property makes a huge difference if it is stolen. He suggests people keep a list of the serial numbers on all of their electronics and power tools. Owings suggests for items that do not have serial numbers, like jewelry, people should take photos and hold onto their receipts.

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