Charleston Police Department Uncovers $10,000 in Retail Theft with LeadsOnline

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West Virginia detectives recover stolen property using online database.

“We use LeadsOnline religiously. It’s simply the best investigative tool we have, and this case is just one example of the power it gives our detectives to uncover criminal activity,” said Sergeant Bobby Eggleton.

Detective Eric Tipton of the Charleston Police Department said that when the Assistant Chief of Detectives assigned him to investigate a shoplifting report filed on October 5 by the local Cabela’s loss prevention team, he expected it to an isolated incident. However, with further investigation, he uncovered organized retail theft amounting to $10,000 in loss for local retailers.

“I started by reviewing the video surveillance, and since I was unable to immediately identify the suspects, we chose to release images to the media,” Detective Tipton said. “We received a number of calls identifying the suspects as Melissa and Gerald Thompson, a husband and wife from Clay County, West Virginia.”

Knowing the suspects’ names, Detective Tipton said he turned to LeadsOnline, the nation’s largest online investigations system that allows law enforcement to search secondhand stores, pawn shops and scrap metal recyclers across all 50 states to locate stolen property. He said the online database returned numerous results uncovering the couple’s activity dating back to August 2012.

“We use LeadsOnline religiously. It’s simply the best investigative tool we have, and this case is just one example of the power it gives our detectives to uncover criminal activity,” said Sergeant Bobby Eggleton, Assistant Chief of Detectives for the Charleston Police Department. “LeadsOnline is way better than we even imagined when we first started using it, and since then, they’ve only improved upon its crime-solving capabilities.”

Working closely with Cabela’s loss prevention team, Detective Tipton said they were able to gather additional surveillance from each incident dating back to August 30, 2012.

“We learned the couple would lift the merchandise, and in most cases, sell it within an hour of the theft. Even though the suspects sold the property at several pawn shops across the state, we were still able to track their activity through LeadsOnline, and in turn, we recovered a large portion of the merchandise,” Detective Tipton said.

Upon interviewing the suspects, Detective Tipton said they confessed to the crimes, and admitted to stealing the merchandise to feed their drug habits. Melissa Thompson has been incarcerated since she was arrested because she was in violation of her parole. Gerald Thompson posted bail shortly after being arrested.

The case is still under investigation, and Detective Tipton said he believes the couple may have targeted other local retailers.

Information in this release is based on case number I12100508.

About LeadsOnline: Each day, millions of items are added to the LeadsOnline system by businesses including secondhand stores, scrap metal recyclers, music and electronic stores, pawn shops, and Internet drop-off stores across all 50 states. An official eBay partner, LeadsOnline helps prevent illegal transactions on eBay by giving law enforcement access to the world’s largest online marketplace through the automatic upload of all eBay transactions into the LeadsOnline system. LeadsOnline also includes LeadsOnlabs MethMonitor, a system for tracking those involved in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamines; a Metal Theft Investigation System (MTIS) designed to track copper and other metal thefts; LeadsOnline Sketches, providing departments access to a skilled forensic artist anytime, anywhere; 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 of 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 more than 4,000 agencies throughout the country, including the Seattle Police Department, Tucson Police Department, Indianapolis Police Department, Dallas Police Department, and the Chicago Police Department. For more information, please visit

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Lindsay Williams

Sgt. Bobby Eggleton
Charleston Police Department
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