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middletownjournal.com

Middletown, Ohio, PD looks to improve clearance rates with LeadsOnline

Police begins using online searchable database for pawn shops, second-hand stores

By Michael D. Pitman

March 22, 2012

MIDDLETOWN – Thefts and burglaries increased in the city from 2010 to 2011, but detectives hope paying for an online database will improve those statistics.

Earlier this month the Middletown Division of Police began using LeadsOnline, a searchable database for law enforcement agencies to track the sale of items to second-hand stores and pawn shops.

"You've got more information so you'd be able to solve more cases," said Lt. Scott Reeve. "That's a big reason we got LeadsOnline, because we're having such a problem with thefts and burglaries."

According to records, thefts rose in Middletown from 2010 to 2011 and burglaries have been on the rise since 2008. Last year, there were 2,949 thefts and 1,309 burglaries.

Trenton Police Department has been using the program for about a year, and Lt. Mike Gillen said "it's been a great tool."

"We were really just getting inundated with thefts and a lot of the stuff were ending up in the pawn shops, in the scrap yards," he said.

He called the rise in thefts "a trend of the economy." Thefts have fluctuated over the past four years in Trenton, but have averaged about 430 a year.

Burglaries in Trenton are on the rise, however, since 2008. There were 17 more burglaries in 2011 than in 2010, and 28 more than in 2008.

"It shows a pattern as far as names, and you can generate a really good list of suspects of what they're running through the pawn shops and scrap yards," Gillen said of using the program.

For the past 20 years pawn shops and the past four years second-hand stores have reported to the Middletown police its purchases from the public. But Reeve said it is a very time-consuming process with just one person inputting data from stacks of paper submitted by the 20 pawn shops and second-hand stores.

LeadsOnline will put that responsibility to the pawn shops and second-hand stores, which 11 of those 20 stores are currently doing, Reeve said. But by April 1, all 20 will be required to submit the data online, he said.

Richie's Pawn Central, 1150 Central Ave., is one of the 20 stores, and has already been inputting the purchase data weeks before the police department's deadline. Allen McIntosh, manager of Richie's Pawn, doesn't have a problem with it.

"I think it's a good system," said McIntosh, adding at most about a half-hour is added to the store's normal bookkeeping process. "It provides a more up-to-date searchable database."

The police department has an internal system it's used for decades, but it was limited as Reeve said "it was just places in Middletown." Office staff will input entries made since Jan. 1 into the LeadsOnline database, he said. The department will still check the internal system when investigating theft reports, Reeve said.

"The agencies who use our service are able to clear more Part I cases," said Williams.

The Dallas-headquartered company was developed by law enforcement agencies and other entities in 2000, said LeadsOnline spokeswoman Lindsay Williams. More than 4,000 law enforcement agencies use LeadsOnline, but about 2,100 contract the service which allows local businesses to input the data. There are 100 agencies in Ohio. Williams said there are six agencies in Butler County that use LeadsOnline, including Middletown and Trenton, but Williams said she could not share the client list without approval from each agency since it is proprietary information.

Middletown will pay around $6,000 to use the service, but Reeve said "with the reduction of staff it's cheaper than paying someone to input (the data)." Trenton paid $2,000 last year, Gillen said.

"Hopefully this will work for the scrap metal thefts, too," he said.

Source: http://www.middletownjournal.com/news/crime/police-begins-using-online-searchable-database-for-pawn-shops-second-hand-stores-1348385.html

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