The New Haven Police Department has become the first department in Connecticut to register with LeadsOnline, a service that allows police to better track down thieves, the NHPD announced on Friday.
The adoption of LeadsOnline requires the owners of Elm City second-hand dealers — such as pawnshops, precious metal stores and scrap dealers — to record their transactions in the LeadsOnline website at the end of each day. While most activity at second-hand dealers is legal, thieves often sell stolen items to these dealers, NHPD spokesman David Hartman said. By allowing police to easily track items sold in these stores along with the people who pawned them, LeadsOnline helps the police department to catch criminals who have sold stolen goods. Ten other Connecticut police departments — including the Yale, Branford and East Haven police departments — have followed the NHPD in registering for the service.
The NHPD began looking into the service over a year ago, and held its first training session for officers immediately after the Friday conference.
NHPD Chief Dean Esserman, LeadsOnline representative Erin Hunt and officers from Connecticut police departments showed their support for the new partnership at a Friday press conference at NHPD headquarters.
“We’re taking the next step in our fight on crime, which is a partnership with our surrounding police departments to adopt a new technology called LeadsOnline that we think will make a difference in tracking potentially stolen technology,” Esserman said.
Members of the New Haven community can register valuables they currently own in the LeadsOnline database. If the item is stolen, the owner can use the LeadsOnline website to send information about it directly to the police department.
The LeadsOnline program is already widely used on the West Coast, NHPD Assistant Chief Achilles Generoso said. Generoso added that the technology was recently adopted by the New York City Police Department. Philadelphia police began using the technology in 2012.
“We hope to get the whole state using LeadsOnline, which will make us more effective than ever,” Generoso said.
The more police departments that register with LeadsOnline, the more effective the service becomes, Branford Police Department Captain Geoffrey Morgan said. When only one of two neighboring police departments uses the service, a criminal can steal valuables from a citizen of the county that uses LeadsOnline and sell them in the neighboring county where second-hand dealers are not required to record transactions in the database.
Morgan emphasized the importance of having New Haven lead the partnership between Connecticut police departments. Morgan said criminals from nearby towns like Branford often sell stolen items to second-hand dealers in New Haven.
“As you can imagine, a tremendous amount of what happens with precious metals and pawnshops occurs right here in the city of New Haven,” Morgan said. “To have them partner and come in on this program is certainly essential and it will benefit the entire region.”
LeadsOnline was founded in 2000 and is based in Texas.