Police look for high-tech help tracking stolen goods

Sylva will likely hire a private company in Texas to process daily pawnshop and second-hand dealers’ receipts instead of those tasks being handled in-house by town police.

Police Chief Davis Woodard has recommended the shift to LeadsOnline, which would cost the town about $2,128 a year. That cost, however, would essentially remove an administrative burden currently on the small, 14-member department, offsetting those dollars, he said.

LeadsOnline bills itself as the largest online investigative service nationwide used by law enforcement. Sylva’s precious metals exchangers and people in metal recycling also would submit information directly to LeadsOnline under the probable new town law.

All the goods flowing through pawn shops would be cataloged in a database police could then access to look for stolen and missing property.

“The information will be reviewed by officers from the Sylva Police Department,” Woodard said. “We go out take a report, go to LeadsOnline, enter a serial number if we have one or distinguishing marks, and it will pop up if it was taken from another place that has LeadsOnline.”

Additionally, the program would allow police to look for stolen items on eBay, the chief said.

Required information would include “clear and accurate” property descriptions, including models and serial numbers if available; the name, residence address phone number and date of birth of the seller; and a description of the seller.

Within 48 hours, the dealer involved would electronically submit the information.

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