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4 ways LeadsOnline is helping departments do more with less

From building stronger relationships with the community to cutting down on interstate crime, police are making great use of one database service


LeadsOnline can help track transactions from secondhand dealers, pawnshops and gold buyers, as well as scrap metal dealers.


The following is paid content sponsored by LeadsOnline

By Police1 BrandFocus Staff

Few in public safety haven’t heard the dreaded words “do more with less.” As departments face smaller budgets and greater responsibilities, it has become a fact of life that officers must maximize their resources in order to do their jobs. Part of that is looking for inventive ways to use the resources that are available.

LeadsOnline, for example, is an online investigation system used by departments across the country to track transactions from secondhand dealers, pawnshops and gold buyers, as well as scrap metal dealers.

In addition to tracking stolen property, the departments that use LeadsOnline have found creative ways to leverage the information. Here are the top four ways LeadsOnline is being used to amplify its users’ reach.

1. Build LE relationships nationwide

Subscribing to a nationwide service like LeadsOnline connects your department with many other agencies, both in your state and across the country.

Detective Wilbur O’Neal of the Raleigh, North Carolina, Police Department observed that through working with officers from other departments on cases that had crossed jurisdictional lines, he was able to build relationships within those departments, as well as in federal agencies. This improved future collaborations and aided all parties in clamping down on property crimes.

2. Build relationships with community business owners

Community policing is a hot topic in law enforcement these days. Having the cooperation and support of local business owners is an undeniable asset when investigating crimes.

O’Neal said that business owners were much more willing to help out in investigations when they could put a face and name to the police department, particularly the unit tasked with investigating property crimes.

Having citizens who can support your investigations or tip you off to suspected illegal activity can be priceless.

3. Recognize predictable patterns of criminal behavior

Detective O’Neal uses the LeadsOnline database to determine what he calls “predictive retail behavior.” If he suspects, based on investigation, that a certain person is a suspect in a theft and likely to sell the merchandise, he can use the system to determine where and when they’re likely to try selling the illicit goods.

“They know they can get the best deal from this clerk and this pawn shop, so they’ll likely go there when that person is on shift, making it easy for us to just wait and pick up the suspect,” he said.

4. Use investigative resources consistently across many types of cases

Perhaps the most important way to maximize your department’s use of resources is also the simplest: Be consistent. The Raleigh Police Department used the data collected by LeadsOnline not just for preventing property theft, but on a whole litany of crimes.

While it may be difficult to identify suspects in robberies and violent crimes if the victim did not get a good look, remember that the suspects are likely to sell the stolen merchandise from the crime, leaving a trail. O’Neal has had success using the database to locate these suspects. With the timeline and the general location, investigators can get a list of people who have sold similar items to pawn shops in the area. Cross-referencing that list with jail records, looking for those who have committed similar crimes in the past, might yield a match. The same is true for identity theft, embezzlement and organized retail theft.

The key to maximizing resources is to use them in as many ways as possible. By taking advantage of the ability to build relationships within and outside your community and analyzing available data to yield new insights, investigators can multiply the effects of their efforts, getting more from their time and effort and saving the department money.