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New technology helping Florida police recover stolen items sold in other jurisdictions

January 8, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local police have a tool to catch the thieves that steal your stuff and then sell it to pawn shops.

The local pawn shop is one of the first places that people go to look for their stolen items. Thomas Stemp with Big Cash Pawn says it can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

"Too often we have people come in trying to describe a ring, but they don't know the size or weight. They just know what it looks like," said Stemp.

Police have a tool to try and get your stolen items back fast. "Now, instead of going to take a visit to the pawn store, they can log into a computer," said Cpl. Catherine Payne with St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Payne says local police departments are now essentially communicating with each other through a computer program. It sends a notice when someone tries to pawn a recently stolen item that is in the database.

"We look at the property, who pawned it, based on the transaction numbers," said Payne.

Action News found it's getting more thieves into trouble. We found three police reports showing items stolen in St. Johns County, but the suspects tried to pawn them in Duval. "In most cases, that's what we see. They feel like they're fooling the system," said Payne.

Because of this system, two people are in jail and the victims have their items back. For pawn-shop workers like Stemp, it's a way to make sure the items they get are legit.

"It can only be helpful," said Stemp.

Police also recommend keeping track of serial numbers on your electronics and taking pictures of your jewelry.

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