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Alexandria police team up with local pawn shops to better track stolen property

APD is using Leads Online, a computerized pawn shop transaction database that compares what is bought and sold with an inventory of reported stolen items.

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Echo Press file photo
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ALEXANDRIA — The Alexandria Police Department has a new tool to help track down stolen items – a computerized pawn shop transaction database known as Leads Online.

This has been a long time coming, according to Sgt. Chad Schroeder what the Alexandria Police Department.

“When property crimes occur, the stolen items often end up at pawn shops,” said Schroeder.

With the department teaming up with local pawn shops and Leads Online , police officers can more easily recover stolen property, he added.

Leads Online, he said, is a database that compares what is bought and sold at local pawn shops to an inventory of reported stolen items.

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Prior to using this tool, Schroeder said the police department would have to go to the local pawn shops and manually look through paper transactions for the stolen items, which Schroeder said was very time consuming.

“Leads Online provides law enforcement with investigative access across jurisdictional boundaries, borders previously used to the advantage of criminals to escape detection by local authorities,” said Schroeder.

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Sgt. Chad Schroeder

He noted that the Leads Online system is designed specifically for criminal investigations using transaction data from not only pawn shops, but scrap yards, eBay, OfferUp, gold buyers and other second-hand stores.

Leads Online not only connects the Alexandria Police Department with pawn shops across the country, but also connects them to a network of more than 4,700 law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.

Many law enforcement clients report that the cross-jurisdictional feature of Leads Online is one of its greatest strengths, according to information provided by Schroeder. It is reportedly because thieves often know better than to try and dispose of stolen property anywhere in the vicinity of the crime because the chance of detection is too great.

Instead, criminals will often travel to another area, like an adjacent town, closest major city or across state lines, to unload the property, where they reportedly believe they have a better chance of going undetected.

Schroeder said that anybody – not just businesses like pawn shops – can register their valuable property with Leads Online.

“Leads Online also offers the citizens of the city of Alexandria the ability to create a personal inventory of their belongings,” said Schroeder.

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The inventory can include pictures, serial numbers, descriptions and scan of purchase recipes to a secure, password protected database. This inventory, he explained, is then added to the data that is scanned by Leads Online to check for pawned stolen property. In the end, he noted, it results in higher recovery rates of stolen property and prosecution of the criminal who are pawning it for quick money.

Schroeder said items that come to mind are construction trailers, as they are often the target of thieves.

“If a construction company had everything in their trailers itemized through the Leads Online database, we can flag those items as stolen and if they show up elsewhere, like they often do, we would be notified,” said Schroeder. “It’s completely free and secure. All people have to do is go to the Leads Online website and register."

The website is www.leadsonline.com .

In August 2022, the City of Alexandria changed its code that regulates pawnbrokers. The amendment gives the police department the authority to determine how pawnshop records should be kept. This is what allows the city to connect to Leads Online.

The city is covering the subscription fee for Leads Online, which is estimated at $2,500 a year.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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