Statewide Metal Theft Database Helps Detectives Solve More Crimes

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Statewide database, LeadsOnline, identifies additional suspects in significant copper theft in Arkansas; Current Ohio legislation looks to implement similar system to assist detectives

Ohio Senate Bill 193, currently awaiting Governor Kasich’s signature, looks to create a statewide database and registry for scrap metal recyclers similar to the one Arkansas officials implemented in 2008.

Most recently, Arkansas detectives arrested four alleged suspects accused of creating more than $20,000 in estimated damages at the deserted Victorian Inn in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Suspects were gutting and stealing all available sources of copper when detectives at Eureka Springs Police Department initially identified two suspects at the scene. Detectives then identified two more suspects using LeadsOnline, Arkansas’s statewide metal theft database. The two suspects would have remained unknown and free to commit additional crimes across the state without the intelligence gained from LeadsOnline.

Not only does LeadsOnline provide Arkansas detectives and law enforcement across the country with easily searchable transaction information from metal recyclers in their jurisdiction, but the sophisticated online investigations system allows detectives to track stolen property that is sold outside of the jurisdiction.

“Before we started using LeadsOnline, it was nearly impossible to get a lead for metal theft because we were receiving as many as a thousand pieces of paper a day from our scrap yards. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Detective Jack Addington of Columbus PD. “Now with a quick search, I can search for stolen property at Columbus scrap yards and hundreds across the country that also report to LeadsOnline.”

Scrap metal recyclers in Arkansas, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio and across the country report transactions electronically via LeadsOnline. Meaning if copper is stolen in Arkansas, and sold to a scrap yard in Ohio, detectives will still be able to locate the stolen property. Arkansas is one of three states that have implemented LeadsOnline as an effective and efficient statewide metal theft database for law enforcement. More than 1,400 local law enforcement agencies across the country solve metal theft cases using LeadsOnline every day.

“It (LeadsOnline) is one the first tools we turn to when starting an investigation because it helps generate leads. We’ve recovered two or three stolen cars just by searching the VIN number, and in 2008, we located six thousand pounds of stolen steel,” Detective Addington said.

The online investigations system uses a variety of ways to search for stolen property, including serial and model numbers, as well as descriptions. LeadsOnline accepts images, thumbprint scans and digital signatures if the business is required to or chooses to report that information.

Because the system is an online nationwide network that scrap metal recyclers as well as pawn shops and secondhand stores report to, police have real-time access to the information, no matter where the item is sold. LeadsOnline is credited with solving thousands of cases each year, directly impacting increased clearance rates for the agencies it serves.

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About LeadsOnline: LeadsOnline ( is the nation’s largest online investigative system used by more than 4,000 law enforcement agencies to recover stolen property and solve crimes. Each day, millions of items are added to the LeadsOnline database by businesses including secondhand stores, scrap metal recyclers, pawn shops, and Internet drop-off stores across all 50 states. Those records are instantly available to law enforcement agencies. The LeadsOnline system serves as an efficient and money-saving resource for detectives because it provides a cross-jurisdictional, instantaneous, and accurate database that stops criminals from escaping detection by selling stolen items in another city. An official eBay partner, LeadsOnline helps prevent illegal transactions on the eBay website by giving law enforcement access to the world’s largest online marketplace through automatic upload of all eBay transactions into the LeadsOnline database. LeadsOnline also includes LeadsOnlabs, a system for tracking those involved in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamines; a Metal Theft Investigation System designed to track copper and other metal thefts; and cross-checks names of pawn customers against the OFAC SDN list of known terrorists and narcotics traffickers. Each year, LeadsOnline is credited with recovering millions ofOHio dollars in stolen goods and solving thousands of crimes that are often associated with bigger crimes, such as homicide, identity theft, and arson. Based in Dallas and led by CEO Dave Finley, LeadsOnline works with thousands of agencies throughout the country, including the Chicago Police Department, the Dallas Police Department, and the San Francisco Police Department.

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Lindsay Williams
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