By Marie Wilson
August 25, 2011
An online database for Aurora pawn shops and secondhand dealers to post information about every transaction already is helping the city's police department track stolen goods and make arrests, less than a month after its inception.
Authorities say two suspects have been charged with burglary, a third faces pending charges and two others are under investigation for dealing in stolen goods. And all of them were identified using the new LeadsOnline, police spokesman Dan Ferrelli said.
LeadsOnline is the website where Aurora pawn and secondhand shops upload at least daily an image of a photo identification card for each person buying or selling an item, as well as a photo and description of each item and the time of the transaction.
The new city ordinance, passed in late June, gave businesses 30 days — until late July — to begin posting the required information to the website. "If they don't do it, they run the risk of losing their business license," Ferrelli said.
Once information is entered into LeadsOnline, police departments that subscribe to the service — including Aurora, through a $13,898 yearlong contract — can view it immediately and search by serial numbers, item descriptions or other parameters.
"The LeadsOnline system is an example of 21st century technology that has a direct impact on crime in Aurora", Investigations Cmdr Paul Nelson said in a news release. "The system allows Aurora Police to tie burglaries and thefts to the people that are committing them so that they are held accountable."
On Wednesday, in the most recent successful use of LeadsOnline, 40-year-old Edward Paschal of Aurora was charged with one count of felony theft; police say he attempted "to scrap numerous cast-iron catch basin grates he allegedly stole from various Aurora streets."
When the grates were discovered missing last week, officers checked the database, determined the items were taken to an Aurora recycling center and found the suspect's identity.
LeadsOnline also offers a free service that allows Aurora residents to upload photos, descriptions and serial numbers of their valuable items. Residents can go to reportit.leadsonline.com to begin entering information about an unlimited number of personal items.
"Having that information during the investigation of a burglary or theft goes a long way in ultimately solving it," Nelson said.