April 2, 2014
In 2013, Farmington Hills police were able to recover $2,500 in stolen jewelry and $2,000 in lawn equipment with the help of LeadsOnline.
The Web-based tool that's been in use for about one year with the police department, provides electronic access to information from businesses — pawn and resale shops, scrap metal businesses, for example — that are legally required to report transactions.
The tool has helped law enforcement identify and recover missing property through a nationwide database. "We have had a lot of success with it," said Commander Dave Stasch.
LeadsOnline is available to the Hills police through CLEMIS — Courts & Law Enforcement Information System — of Oakland County, which has long been a tool for sharing and communications for police departments. The annual cost to the city is $5,991, said Police Chief Chuck Nebus.
The technology tool allows police to enter information about stolen items, while 14 Hills businesses— and others around the country — put their transactions of what has been sold.
"It will search every pawn shop in the system," said Det. Jason Hammond.
If police are seeking stolen jewelry, electronics or metals, for example, LeadsOnline is the place to go. For example, Stasch said, police could enter information about a stolen tiara. The site will provide all tiaras that have been reported at pawn or resale shops. The same holds true for catalytic converters, air-conditioning units and items that contain copper, a popular resale item.
"Let's say we had a home invasion and eight items were taken," Hammond said. "We would list them and we will be notified (if a transaction of the items has occurred)."
Nebus recalled an antique clock that was stolen in the recent past. Westland police took notice of it with LeadsOnline and managed to recover it.
"We have had some really good leads," said Det. Dave Newcomb.
The website also has a spot for law enforcement to report its success stories, which indicate the ability for businesses and police to track transactions right down to a person.
In one success story, Det. Morgan Malone of the Monroe Police Department in North Carolina reported:
"A local jewelry store filed a police report stating they had gold jewelry missing from their inventory. They suspected an employee took the jewelry but did not know which employee and could not even pinpoint when it occurred," Malone wrote.
"I searched LeadsOnline to see if any of the employees sold any jewelry, and one had. The business where this employee sold the jewelry actually photographed and uploaded those items into the database," he added.
Hammond also entered his own success story for LeadsOnline:
"I was investigating a case where the suspect was a caretaker for the victim's husband. I checked the suspect through Leads and located my victim's ring, along with a few other items the victim didn't realize were missing yet. I obtained a warrant for the suspect."
On another front, civilians may also open an account and put in their personal property serial numbers, item descriptions, pictures, and scans of receipts so that your items may be more easily identified in the event of theft or loss. Police cannot access the account, but should a property owner have a loss, the information may be printed and provided to officers.
The website is available at www.leadsonline.com.