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New Technology to Assist Burglary, Theft Probes

Using new software, Moorestown Police will be able to track down stolen goods pawned at local shops.

Moorestown Police are hoping a new software tool will help them more easily track down stolen items.

Town council passed an ordinance Monday night that will require proprietors of pawn shops, cash-for-gold shops and the like to register items brought in by customers into a database. The ordinance mandates that owners must photograph any item and make a color copy of the customer’s identification. Police pushed for the ordinance to aid in investigations involving stolen goods.

Lt. Lee Lieber explained that the program is used statewide in Maryland and Delaware, and is “gaining some momentum” in New Jersey, with towns including Cherry Hill, Voorhees and Evesham either already using it or in the process of implementing it.

“We want to try to be on the cutting edge,” Lieber told council.

He said the software would greatly aid in the investigation of thefts and burglaries: “It will give us the ability to track stolen property more quickly ... It will give resolution to burglary victims.”

It’ll also make the officers’ jobs easier, Lieber explained. Rather than having to stop into each of the half dozen or so shops in the township to search for stolen items, they can simply sign into the database to check.

The ordinance—which brings with it a $300 annual fee for shop owners—will apply to any stores that buy or trade secondhand items, including precious metals, jewelry and electronics, even gift cards.

Detective Joe Walsh said the more towns that sign up for the software, the better neighboring communities can work together to solve crimes. If, for example, a burglar robs a home in Moorestown, then pawns the stolen items in Cherry Hill, Moorestown Police would be able to track the items to that shop—theoretically anyway.

“Once these towns come on board, it’s going to save a lot of time,” said Lieber.

Moorestown is the first municipality in Burlington County to implement this initiative, according to Lieber and Walsh.

Lieber said the police department has already been in contact with a vendor to install the software and will begin that process now that council passed the ordinance.

Mensa April 09, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Sounds like a tax on small business owners to me. Big government once again hitting on the job creators. LOLz.
Margaret April 09, 2013 at 12:27 PM
This system also appears to leave the ID of honest people selling their own unwanted property (e.g., due to economic distress) in a big government database. Copies of customers' ID should not be kept once the police have determined the item is not stolen.
Our Town April 09, 2013 at 02:11 PM
How about making the inventory, not necessarily the identifications, available to the public therefore eliminating the need for an officer having to "sign into the database" and browse the items. Give that responsibility to the victims and perhaps we can begin to cut the number of officers in relation to the increase in technology usage. We then wouldn't have to burden the businesses with an additional tax because we could potentially realize those savings from a reduced police force budget. It's a win/win. We get to reduce spending by eliminating officers having to browse through pictures of items comparing them to the notes they have on a theft report and we have those most familiar with the items that were stolen searching for themselves. See how technology can cut both ways? Something tells me the police won't like this idea though.

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