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Online database could improve recovery of stolen items

By Alice Queen

September 5, 2013

CONYERS – The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office is planning to contract with a company that will make it easier to recover stolen goods that have been pawned.

Chief Deputy Scott Freeman told Rockdale commissioners at a work session Tuesday night that the Sheriff's Office is asking to enter into a contract with LeadsOnline, a company that maintains a nationwide database of pawned items. The contract will be before the Board of Commissioners for a vote on Sept. 10.

Under the current system, stacks of pawn tickets are collected by deputies from local pawn shops and serial numbers from the pawned items are entered into a computer database by RCSO employees. Those serial numbers are then compared to the numbers of stolen items. Due to the cumbersome nature of the system, Freeman said the data entered can be six to seven months behind.

Under the LeadsOnline contract, pawn shop owners will no longer have to fill out pawn tickets. Instead, they will enter the serial numbers of items in the LeadsOnline database when the the merchandise is brought into the store, making sure the items listed are up to date. Pawn shop owners can enter photos of items that don't have serial numbers, like jewelry, into the LeadsOnline system.

In addition, according to the LeadsOnline website, database information crosses jurisdictions, making it easier to track down stolen items that are pawned in different areas.

Freeman said the contract would cost the RCSO $9,500 annually. There would be no cost to the pawn shops to participate.

RCSO Investigator Michael Camp said Thursday using LeadsOnline will make the department more efficient and lead to greater success in locating stolen items.

Camp said law enforcement officers don't have to wait until an item is pawned to begin the recovery process.

"If your house is burglarized and your TV gets stolen, and you have your serial number, we can put in that number," explained Camp. "Three days from now, when someone pawns the TV, we will get an email that it has been pawned."

Camp said there are fewer than 10 pawn shops in Rockdale County, and several of them already use LeadsOnline. The city of Conyers Police Department also uses LeadsOnline, he said.

The county is also in the process of updating its pawn shop zoning ordinance in order to make participation in the database mandatory. Under the proposed zoning amendment, pawn shops could lose their business licenses if they don't participate.

"(The zoning amendment) is based on state code, and I think it will do the trick for the Sheriff's Department and will just make things a lot easier," said Marshall Walker, director of Planning and Development.


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