Gallia sheriff joins LeadsOnline service

GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Sheriff’s Office has joined a subscription service called LeadsOnline to allow staff and detectives to search for stolen property across second-hand stores, pawn shops and similar locations.

“The gist is that our detectives can access this database that pawn shops and certain other businesses join. They enter serial numbers into the system and this makes it easier for us to search for stolen goods when they enter a pawn shop,” Sheriff Joe Browning said.

Browning noted that the database was not full-proof as it depended on whether a business was willing to aid in entering information into the database. He noted that certain cities have ordinances that promote such techniques to aid in law enforcement of stolen property.

“In Gallipolis, we’re trying to work with city commissioners to try and do some stuff in town where the majority of these shops are,” Browning said.

Browning noted that about 35,000 businesses “fed” into the LeadsOnline database in the nation. He noted that if someone stole an item in Gallia County and sold it at another pawn shop in Huntington, W.Va., that information would be available because of the system.

Browning noted that the database is owned by a private organization that ties in another 50,000 investigators.

“What we’ve found is that you can spend a lot of time going into these different shops. A lot of times we find property being sold in West Virginia or Kentucky. You can spend a lot of fuel and hours on something like that,” Browning said. “We felt when the opportunity came up for us to contract with LeadsOnline, we would contract with them for one year to see how it would go. I think our staff that are using it believe this is saving us a lot of time in comparison to going around to individual stores.”

Browning noted that the subscription cost of the service was around $2,000, but that it was being paid for by drug forfeiture money. He noted this was for a year’s subscription.

The sheriff also said it was important to return individuals’ property because, despite a theft being a crime that involves property, oftentimes homes and personal lives were “violated.” It is not uncommon for people to then question the security of their homes and lives. Browning said he wants the residents of Gallia County to not have that uncertain feeling.

For more information, contact Browning at 740-446-0734 or [email protected]

Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.