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Police ask Upper Southampton to adopt updated crime-fighting tool

By Naomi Hall

July 4, 2013

Tracking down stolen jewelry and goods could get a little easier in Upper Southampton.

The board of supervisors plan to adopt a new ordinance that would require precious metals dealers and pawnbrokers to enter records and photographs of each transaction on a national database, police said.

At Tuesday's supervisors meeting, Detective Craig Rudisill of the township's police department asked for the ordinance, which would require cash-for-gold businesses and pawn shops to register with an online database that helps law enforcement find stolen goods that have been sold for cash.

The supervisors said they understand the need for the ordinance and plan to vote on the measure during their August meeting.

Precious metals dealers are already required to record their transactions with local authorities, but the township's current recording methods are paper-based and labor intensive, police said.

"If jewelry items are reported stolen within the township from either a theft or burglary, a manual search for the items needs to be performed by going through each transaction sheet. This search is extremely time-consuming and at times not very effective due to the poor quality of photocopied images," Rudisill told the supervisors.

With the adoption of a new online investigation system and national database called LeadsOnline, businesses would be required to upload information about jewelry they have purchased into the database as well as photos of the seller and the jewelry or goods sold, he said.

Business owners do not pay a fee for registering with LeadsOnline, which is based in Plano, Texas.

Lindsay Williams, communications director for LeadsOnline, said that costs for subscribing to the service depend on the size of the police department and other factors. She could not provide further information about the costs to Upper Southampton.

Rudisill said that surrounding municipalities — Falls, Bensalem, Bristol Township, Lower Southampton and Philadelphia — already use LeadsOnline to track and monitor the sale of stolen goods, Rudisill said.

Gaining access to the national database would help modernize the township's police work, he said.

"Over the past several years, with the increasing value of gold, silver and platinum, jewelry items have become the preferred target for thieves and burglars," Rudisill said. "The enacting of this ordinance would not only assist the police department in the investigation of crimes but also act as a deterrent to a potential criminal element that may come into the township to sell the fruits of their crimes."

"Sounds great," said Supervisor Marguerite C. Genesio.

"I think it's a new way of fighting crime," added Supervisor Walter C. Stevens.

In an unrelated matter, the board moved discussion of ordinances involving electronic signs and parking to the August meeting, and agreed to cancel the July 16 meeting.

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