April 14, 2014
LeadsOnline service helps police locate stolen property, identify suspects.
Citizens in Hiram and Paulding County will soon be able to store serial numbers, photographs and scans of receipts so that these items may be more easily identified in the event of theft or loss. This service is being offered free of charge as part of an agreement recently entered into between the City of Hiram and LeadsOnline.
Through the use of both services we hope to improve our ability to locate stolen property, identify suspects, and make more efficient use of limited investigative resources.
The "ReportIt" service is a part of LeadsOnline, the online system that works with police across the country to track and recover stolen property. The Hiram Police Department uses LeadsOnline to help track and recover stolen property — everything from jewelry to sporting equipment to electronics, computers, cameras, and other items such as designer clothing, collectibles, and other items with invaluable personal worth. The system allows detectives to search for the items using a variety of parameters, including item descriptions and serial numbers. When an item is sold to a pawn or secondhand shop, the product information is entered in the LeadsOnline database and is immediately viewable by participating law enforcement agencies across the country.
According to Chief Vande Zande, "within minutes of beginning a trial run of the program, we received notification that included a photograph, demographic information and biometric information of an individual selling multiple cell phones recently stolen from vehicles in our community. Normally, these transactions would have gone undetected because the suspect utilized a kiosk designed to provide users with immediate payment for depositing cell phones. The kiosk does not report the sold article to the National Crime Information Center or the Georgia Crime Information Center. This non-reporting precludes the serial number from being cross referenced in the stolen item database. This has become a surreptitious and profitable method for fencing stolen items and avoiding police detection. However, these kiosks do report to LeadsOnline and because of this, we were immediately notified that the transaction had occurred and were provided the information we needed to move the investigation forward. Had it not been for LeadsOnline, we certainly would have remained with a cold case and no additional leads to work with. I believe this resource will save this department a great deal of time as it provides us a nexus through which we can track the illicit transfer and sale of property and receive close to real time information on the whereabouts of stolen property and those who possess it."
The City of Hiram intends on rolling out the program within the next few weeks and will be working with pawn shops and retailers in our community who purchase secondhand items from individuals. We will be providing them with the information they need to acquire free access LeadsOnline reporting. Once completed, we will have a public/private network in place that will enable us to better detect illicit activity and recover valued merchandise so that it may be returned to its owner.