By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Police investigators have a new tool to locate stolen property thanks to a partnership with LeadsOnline.
The online website allows users to research millions of items received by pawn shops, second-hand stores, scrap metal dealers, and auction sites like eBay with a click of the mouse. It also alerts law-enforcement officers when people purchase items used to make crystal meth.
The Tupelo Police Department signed on this month, and Capt. Tim Tate said investigators already have recovered two stolen items – a gun and a camera – thanks to the system. They since have been returned to their owners.
“Previously, pawn shops reported to us because they have to by law, and we just had a local file,” Tate said. “But with LeadsOnline, it’s a national database, so we can search surrounding cities – Birmingham, West Point, Columbus.”
Tate said searching for stolen goods outside of Tupelo used to require cold calls to other law-enforcement agencies to check their local files, which was a hit-or-miss strategy. Now it’s a quick and thorough search with the click of a mouse.
But without a valid serial number, it’s nearly impossible to recover stolen goods. Tate recommended everyone keep a file of serial numbers on all their valuables – televisions, cameras, stereos – as well as a detailed description.
LeadsOnline allows individuals to store that data on its website to make it easier for law-enforcement to find missing items.
Tupelo’s police department is among the latest to join LeadsOnline, owned by a Dallas-based company which claims to work with thousands of agencies nationwide. It cost $5,000 to join and an annual renewal of $2,000, Tate said, adding that the city will seek grants to cover the recurring costs.
“It’s worth it when you consider what we’ll be able to do now,” he said. “I think we’ll recover a lot more than we had been.”