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Police using technology to track stolen items

By Michael Spears

August 5, 2014

Serial numbers — all of our gadgets and gismos have them.

They may not mean much on first glance, but the cryptic codes can help big time if someone comes along and swipes your shiny new iPhone, laptop or TV.

"Your house is where you live; it's where everything personal happens," said Greensboro Police Department Sgt. Terry Brown. "And, if someone invades that, you feel it's the biggest thing in the world; and it is."

If it does happen to you, Greensboro police say they've got something new that'll help get your belongings back.

"LeadsOnline is our property recovery system," said Sgt. Brown. "All of the pawn shops in the area, metal shops, jewelry stores that take anything in, report their property into this system."

There are two sides to the website; the one investigators use to get a hit on stolen property and another side police say you can now use.

It's called Police have started encouraging people within the last year to take advantage of the resource.

"You go around your house, you take pictures of all your serial numbers, the name, the brand, the make, the model," said Sgt. Brown. "You go into this system it's free."

Free for anyone in Guilford County.

Winston-Salem police, Burlington police and Rockingham County deputies also use the program.

In Greensboro alone, there have been more than 400 reported thefts, car break-ins and burglaries in the last two weeks, according to

"Log in, register and you start putting the description of your items in," Sgt. Brown said.

This includes uploading jewelry appraisals and receipts.

Police do not have access to your personal account. If anything of yours is ever stolen then it will be listed on the secure website and ready to print out and hand over to investigators' a complete list of serial numbers and descriptions.

"Unless we can prove it's yours; there's an engraving on it, you got a picture saying this is mine, a receipt, an appraisal," said Sgt. Brown. "We can't return it."

The department says LeadsOnline software has helped solve more cases. It's also helped GPD's pawn detective who's in charge of helping get stolen property back.

Greensboro police say the department will use its own money to recover stolen property that's been pawned.

It may take an hour or more of your time, depending on how many items you log, but police say it's worth it.

"In order to get your stuff back, to get the peace of mind that the person who broke into your house; we've caught, we've arrested, we've put [them] in jail; that [they're] not going to come back and get the stuff that [they] forgot," said Sgt. Brown. "That's priceless."


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