By Lincoln Wright
July 16, 2014
A local man had 11 of his stolen guitars returned thanks to the addition of LeadsOnline as an investigative tool, South Bend police said.
While out of town on June 2, the victim had more than $40,000 worth of musical equipment stolen from his home in the 400 block of South Tweckenham Drive.
The victim had a detailed list of the items stolen and with that information area pawn shops were checked, according to police reports. After police found no local hits, the report said, Detective Kelly Waite utilized LeadsOnline to check pawn records outside of the city.
Picked up by the South Bend Police Department in September, LeadsOnline is a national online database law enforcement agencies can subscribe to of pawn shop and precious metal dealers' records, Lt. Dominic Zultanski said.
South Bend and Mishawaka police departments currently use the system, he said, but the St. Joseph County police have yet to get the subscription.
With the online-aided investigation into the stolen music equipment, Waite found transaction records from a Chicago second-hand store that were consistent with many of the stolen items from South Bend, the police report said.
After traveling to Chicago, the report said, Waite verified the items in question were some of the stolen equipment. This led police to the person who made the transaction and most of the remaining property was recovered, according to the report.
Capt. Phil Trent said two suspects have been arrested and at least three more are still under investigation in connection with the robbery.
A 23-year-old male and 21-year-old male suspect were arrested on suspicion of receiving stolen property, Trent said. That possible charge is, at the moment, the best option police have for detaining the two suspects. All of those under investigation are possible suspects for the robbery, Trent said. The investigation is ongoing.
Although LeadsOnline became available in the fall, it was February before the department had the partnerships worked out with all local pawn shops, Zultanski said.
The database, which is free for the businesses involved he said, takes records stores were already required to keep and makes them accessible to law enforcement online.
The yearly cost, which is paid for by the police department, is based on the size of the department and the number of sworn officers, Zultanski said.
Since detectives started utilizing the system, Zultanski said, it has helped with the recovery of stolen goods in roughly 30 cases.
Getting the pawn shop partnerships set up has taken the majority of the focus up until now, but the next step is working with scrap metal yards, he said.
"We are just now getting to the full implication of pawn shops," Zultanski said. "We would like to work with scrap yards beginning of next year. That is a ballpark far away, but we would like to have it sooner."