The city of Portsmouth is considering requiring pawnbrokers and second hand dealers report items purchased by their business to an online clearinghouse on a daily basis.
LeadsOnline is the nation’s largest online investigation system for law enforcement, providing rapid electronic access to transactions from thousands of reporting businesses including scrap metal processors, secondhand stores, Internet drop-off stores, and pawn shops across the country, as well as critical information from eBay listings for criminal investigations.
Recently City Solicitor John Haas was approached by members of the Portsmouth Police Department regarding the potential use of LeadsOnline for information that would assist the department in the investigation, prosecution and return of stolen property to its rightful owners. After Haas researched the issue, draft legislation was prepared. It was presented to Portsmouth City Council during the City Manager’s Conference Agenda Monday night.
“LeadsOnline provides for a more efficient means of reporting for the businesses,” Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware said. “It also protects property owners in that we can more easily recover stolen property that’s pawned unbeknownst to the business owner.”
In his narrative, Allen said passage of the ordinance will have the effecgt of reducing the amount of stolen items being sold by criminals to pawnbrokers and second hand dealers by requiring the immediate reporting of property purchased so that law enforcement can compare the lists to items reported stolen by victims of crime. Currently, detectives are required to search paper records from pawnbrokers and there are no records from local second hand dealers. Once the system is in place, the police department believes it can be used to curb some of the property crimes in the city of Portsmouth as it will be harder for criminals to turn their stolen goods into cash.
“There is also a segment in there (LeadsOnline) where the residents can record their property information,” Ware said. “And then if that is pawned anywhere in the United States by participating businesses, then it will alert local law enforcement.”
Ware said when they first demonstrated it to him he was asked to give them the serial number of a stolen firearm. He gave the instructor the serial number and she ran it through the system and located it in a pawn shop in Columbus.
“It’s something that the businesses have had to do all along, except they do it by paper, by pawn ticket, by report,” Ware said. “Now this is all electronic. It’s free to them. They just enter it into the database and that fulfills the requirement of reporting to us.”
The system, if adopted, will likely receive hundreds of transactions each month from businesses taking in merchandise from the public, the vast majority of the transactikons are legitimate, but some will be instrumental in solving area residents’ cases. With it being required by ordinance, all businesses accepting merchandise from the public will report electronically.
LeadsOnline is the easiest and safest way to report transactions, helping you, your community, and law enforcement.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.