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Case Study: How one PD used an online tracking system to recover $313K in stolen merch

The Raleigh Police Department has had success using LeadsOnline


The following is paid content sponsored by LeadsOnline

By PoliceOne BrandFocus Staff

Background

The Raleigh Police Department joined LeadsOnline in 2013 (Image/City of Raleigh)
The Raleigh Police Department joined LeadsOnline in 2013 (Image/City of Raleigh)

The Raleigh, North Carolina, Police Department and its 728 sworn officers serve a population just over 400,000 people residing in an area of approximately 144 square miles.

With a single officer specializing in tracking and investigating property crimes throughout the city, the agency was in search of a way to efficiently track the sale of stolen property and precious metals.

Problem

Tracking stolen property has always been difficult. Even as pawn shops and precious metals dealers are required by law to report all transactions, the reports alone do not ensure success in criminal investigations.

Prior to 2013, Raleigh PD had been using a relatively common process to track these sales: For each sale, the business owner would provide the department a handwritten or computer-generated ticket with information on the seller and the items being sold. However, receiving and processing of these tickets was time-intensive and often lagged up to six months behind, making it difficult to track stolen property and persons of interest as new cases were reported. It was difficult to keep track of information, and any sort of historical recordkeeping just wasn’t feasible.

In order to effectively combat these crimes, the department needed a way to search transactions and identify and track criminal activity more efficiently.

Solution

The department turned to LeadsOnline in 2013, becoming one of the first departments in the state to use the program. The automated system cut down the lag time between receiving information from pawn shops and other businesses and entering that data into an investigations system. In addition, LeadsOnline made searching through the data easier and more feasible for a small unit.

The months-long delay between sale and processing was cut down to minutes, meaning that the department could use near real-time data to solve crimes.

Once officers were armed with better and timelier data, investigations of stolen property and precious metal thefts were made easier and more efficient. LeadsOnline acted as a force multiplier for the limited manpower of the unit tasked with investigating these crimes, allowing them to do more in less time.

Results

The results were impressive. In 2013, the first year Raleigh PD used the program, the department identified 163 cases that were solved with the help of information from LeadsOnline. Those cases led to 168 suspect arrests and a total of $277,985 in stolen goods recovered and returned to their rightful owners. Moreover, the department was able to track their success on these crimes more accurately than before.

The following year, 2014, the department solved 212 cases and secured 218 felony arrests while recovering $313,230 in merchandise.

The ability to search transaction information regardless of where the suspects traveled added tremendous benefit. The Raleigh Police Department worked their multi-state cases jointly via LeadsOnline with departments in Maryland and Virginia, including Prince George’s County Maryland Police Department and the United States Marshals Service.

Based on debriefings with suspects, they discovered that criminals were catching on to the increased risk associated with crimes involving property. The program was so successful that in 2015, Raleigh PD reported a significant decrease in these types of crimes.

In addition, the officers noted a great side effect to the program – better relationships with business owners in the community. “Pawnshops were calling and updating us on suspect activity.” said Detective Wilbur O’Neal. “We were able to create partnerships with these businesses, which was great.”

The success of this program, and the ability to track the results due to LeadsOnline proved to be a boon for the unit and the department. The results were used to justify the funds needed to expand the unit from the original one officer up to four.

In addition, the department found that property can link a suspect to a crime in other types of crime and has expanded its use of LeadsOnline to the investigation of violent crimes, auto theft and identify theft. 

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