By Zach Southwell
August 5, 2011
As a way to combat the potential sale of stolen items at pawn shops, local law enforcement agencies have turned to a national database which distributes suspect information to authorities.
West Monroe Detective Paul Blunschi said investigators have been using a database hosted by website LeadsOnline.com for about six months.
According to their website, LeadsOnline is the nation's largest online investigation system used by detectives for the investigation of crimes in order to catch "crooks and (methamphetamine) cooks." They take in transaction information from thousands of businesses that may lead to the right suspect.
Blunschi said since the department has been using the website, it has solved 20 cases related to stolen items found at pawn shops.
"We had one where a guy sold an item at a pawn shop in Texas," Blunschi said. "It's been very effective."
Considering the previous method of reporting suspect items to law enforcement agencies involved faxes sent from pawn shops or reports taken in person, Blunschi acknowledged the database has streamlined the process.
The website stated investigators are able to search LeadsOnline to find everything from guns used in homicides, company property sold online, locations of local methamphetamine labs and copper stolen and sold as scrap.
Blunschi said state law dictates pawn shops and second-hand dealers are required to report suspicious sales to local law enforcement.
The website provides investigators with information suspects give up in the process of buying or selling suspicious merchandise, which, in most cases, is reportedly the driver's license information and a description of the item bought or sold.
Blunschi said investigators are seeking local businesses to sign up for their own accounts on LeadsOnline, so as to better protect themselves. He said any area who would like to be added to the database can send their email address to him and ask him to include you on his distribution list. His email address is email@example.com.