WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- With property crimes on the rise, the Wilmington Police Department now has a helping hand in stopping thieves in their tracks.
"We would literally have boxes of pawn tickets, physical tickets, paper tickets that we would have to go through by hand," Wilmington Police spokesman Kevin Smith said.
That is now a thing of the past. The Wilmington Police Department has a top-of-the-line database called LeadsOnline. It's a national effort that helps track thieves and stolen items.
Smith says under a city ordinance, certain businesses are required to enter their purchases in the database.
"It's not only pawn shops, it's jewelry stores, gold and silver buyers, anyone that is purchasing these kinds of products from the public are required to record that," Smith said.
Not only does the database help law enforcement catch suspected crooks, but also helps you get stolen items back in your hands.
"If I got something really important stolen from me, I know I would never see it again, so it would be tough," Jacob Carroll of Wilmington said. "I've got some good stuff that I don't want anybody else to have."
LeadsOnline runs about $13,000 for a subscription, but this year Alan Perry from Perry's Emporium offered to pay for it. As a veteran gold and silver buyer, Perry knew it would be a good resource for his store and even better for the city in general.
WPD started using the new system in July. The department says it has already made a huge difference.
"We can now look at things within 24 hours. Under the old system it might be a month, 30 days before we could look at the same information," Smith said.
WPD says the most important thing property owners can do to make sure you get your stuff back is to record your serial numbers. Police say a good idea is to take pictures of the number and e-mail it to yourself to have it on record.