Madison County officials voted Monday to require electronically recorded transactions for all pawn and secondhand shops, specifically those that sell electronic equipment, jewelry, stamps and precious metals.
The Public Safety Committee unanimously voted on the new county-wide ordinance that will aid law enforcement in the investigation, identification and return of stolen goods. The County Board will vote on the new rule March 20.
Pawn shops purchase items for resale or loan money using the items for collateral. Secondhand shops typically purchase items outright to include electronic equipment, jewelry, stamps, and precious metals. Garage sales, yard sales, and similar activities would be exempt.
County Board member Michael Parkinson, who is also a Granite City police officer, said the new procedure would streamline the process to record information. He said that previously it could take anywhere from six months to two years to find an item because everything was submitted on paper.
Parkinson that the state of Missouri and other Illinois counties has used LeadsOnline, which is a online investigation system, for quite some time.
“People in Missouri knew pawnbrokers didn’t record anything online and would come over here to sell stuff because it would take longer find if it was stolen,” Parkinson said. “This (ordinance) is a great effort by Madison County to thwart crime and another tool used to help lock up bad guys.”
Parkinson commended Lt. Kris Tharp with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department for bringing the matter forward.
Tharp presented the plan to the Public Safety Committee in February. The Sheriff’s Department is the agency responsible for maintaining daily records of pawn and secondhand shops across the county.
Tharp said the current system was “antiquated” and “extremely cumbersome.”
“Madison County was really behind the times with this,” Tharp said.
Tharp said the new regulations would bring the county into compliance with state law, save police departments money and make it easier to track potentially stolen items. He said around 22 businesses would be affected by the new rule.
Pawn and secondhand shops generated 603,721 tickets on 2.1 million items totaling $36 million from Sept. 30, 2016 to Oct. 1, 2017.
Tharp noted as drug-related thefts continue to be on the rise going digital will help cut down thieves selling stolen property in Madison County. He said local law enforcement agencies were finding themselves handling criminal cases that originated across the river, but with the new system Missouri police departments will be able to search the LeadsOnline database for any possible stolen items sold in the county.
Tharp said that by going digital there would be a cost savings for the county. He said the current 3-year contract with LeadsOnline costs $6,714 and allows all sworn personnel to have unrestricted access to its database.
“This system will save the Sheriff’s Department around $42,000 over three years,” Tharp said.
He said the cost savings is for the expense and man hours it takes for Sheriff Department personnel to input and catalog receipts mailed by shop owners.
Tharp said there is no cost for the businesses to input the information and they will be able to receive technical assistance from LeadsOnline as well. For shop owners it will eliminate postage and material costs.
"This makes it much easier for us identify stolen property,” Tharp said.