Stolen guns can bring bigger crimes

By Ariana Garza

April 19, 2018

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – As the debate over gun control continues, many criminals can already get free guns from people who don’t properly secure their legal firearms.

Guns are often stolen from vehicles — some of which are even left unlocked — or from homes during burglaries.

Birmingham Police Lt. Pete Williston said stolen guns can later be used to commit violent crimes, such as robberies or homicides.

Pawn shops work with police to prevent the sale of stolen guns.

“We hold things — if we purchase something — for 18 business days,” Mitch Smith, owner of Golden Pawn and Jewelry, said. “If we pawn something we hold it for two months before it goes out and it gives police ample time to check and see if the gun is not stolen or anything of that nature.”

Pawn shops also use the online database LeadsOnline to run a check of each gun that comes through their doors through a national database that stores information on stolen guns.
If a gun is flagged as stolen, police will step in to investigate.

Smith said someone tries to sell a stolen gun to his shop about once every six months.

That is why he double and triple checks each prospective seller’s information and runs background checks.

In order for police and the national database to be successful, gun owners should keep a record of the make, model, serial number and any other description of each gun.

Having that information handy in the event a gun is stolen will give investigators the best chance of finding it and returning it to you once the investigation is complete.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives — or ATF — provides a free personal firearms record sheet online.

To lower the risk of theft in the first place, Birmingham police recommend always locking your vehicle doors and installing a gun safe in your vehicle.

Police also recommend keeping your gun locked and unloaded at home and secured in a safe.

If you do not have a safe, Lt. Williston recommended a practice called “stealth” which essentially means hiding the gun in a non-obvious place, rather than leaving it on or in your nightstand.


Military gear makes it way through pawn market

By Kelsey Stiglitz

April 19, 2018

While stolen goods may come into pawn shops, military gear or surplus goods sometimes come in less than honestly too.

A Jacksonville woman has been accused of selling her husband’s military gear.

Jessica Ann Rodgers, 29, of Baysden Drive in Jacksonville was charged Monday by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office with felony larceny, felony possession of stolen property and four counts of obtaining property by false pretense.

According to warrants, Rodgers is accused of selling her husband’s military gear without his knowledge or consent at the Southern Trade Emporium on 111 Marine Blvd.

According to Major Chris Thomas with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, it was a domestic situation and Rodgers was charged because the gear she allegedly sold belonged to the military, not her husband.

Thomas said the couple is estranged, and Rodgers’ husband was not aware of the alleged sale until he discovered he was missing gear. He contacted law enforcement to report the stolen gear.

Devon Wagner, the manager of Southern Trade Emporium, said there’s no way to verify stolen gear at the time of sale, but the sheriff’s office uses LeadsOnline to keep up with reports of stolen property.

When Wagner buys a new item, he records it in LeadsOnline and then staff waits a week before it is placed on the floor. This allows cases to be solved by law enforcement, if items pawned or sold are stolen.

“It’s a gamble for us,” Wagner said. “If police come in and take it we don’t get anything back.”

In the case of an estranged military spouse, Wagner said those kinds of sales are common, but he sees even more cases of family members selling items for other motives. And in many cases, the family member whose property is in question will forgive and forget, making it hard for the pawn shop to seek reimbursement.

“The sad part is most of the time the family member drops the case,” Wagner said.

Wagner said he’s seen his share of suspicious sales, especially when clients come in with an excessive amount of issued military gear.

“We’ve had a couple instances like a truck full of brand-new military boots,” Wagner said. “When it’s something that you’re only issued one of, that’s the clear signs but that’s really it.”
Rodgers’ bond was set at $15,000 and she remained in custody as of late Wednesday, according to VineLink.

She is scheduled to appear in Onslow County district court on May 8 for these charges, according to N.C. Courts.

Wagner jokingly gave advice to people wanting to pawn items, saying, “Don’t sell stolen stuff.”


One suspect charged in purchase order scam

By Kenneth Russell

April 19, 2018

The Odessa Police Department has made one arrest in connection with a purchase order scam involving the theft of oilfield equipment, automotive parts and tires from several local businesses, with more arrests expected.

Kenneth Randall Russell, 32, was charged at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday after a theft was reported earlier that day by Loving Electric Company, where Russell was employed, an OPD news release stated. Russell reportedly made two purchase orders from suppliers totaling more than $10,000.

The items consisted of copper wire and miscellaneous tools, the release detailed. Russell was later found and interviewed by detectives, where he admitted to appropriating the stolen property and selling it to pawn shops and metal scrap yards.

Police charged Russell with theft of property, a state jail felony.

Jail records show Russell was taken to the Ector County Detention Center Thursday. No bond was set as of Thursday morning.

OPD Spokesman Steve LeSueur said Russell is connected to a number of recent felony theft reports from local businesses involving current or former employees filling out purchase orders with fake names and fake account numbers.

The suspects are then selling or pawning the stolen property, the release stated, with one case involving about $30,000 worth of stolen tires.
LeSueur said more arrests are expected in the investigation.

OPD is encouraging local businesses to check identification cards and verify all information while completing purchase orders, and anyone with information regarding any of these recent cases is encouraged to contact OPD at 432-333-3641 or Odessa Crime Stoppers at 432-333-TIPS.


Property crime spike prompts for designated police unit

By Abby Paeth

April 9, 2018

Last September, Morgan Leopold, senior in Media, and Alaina Murphy, senior in Business, became victims of a property crime when their house in Champaign was robbed.

This property crime was one of 2,223 reported in Champaign in 2017. The number is part of a recent spike in property crimes.

In 2016, 2,981 property crimes were reported in Champaign, which increased by 53 percent from the previous year, according to the Champaign Police Department.

In Illinois, 262,306 property crimes were reported in 2016, according to the Disaster Center, and 7,919,035 property crimes were reported in the U.S., according to the FBI. Both the Disaster Center and the FBI have not released the statistics for 2017.

According to the FBI, a property crime includes burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson and personal property theft.

Leopold said the perpetrator came into their house in Champaign between midnight and 5 a.m. She believes the perpetrator came in through the downstairs front window, which is usually left unlocked.

A cell phone, a wallet, a GoPro camera and several purses were taken from the house. Leopold, Murphy and two other roommates were asleep in the residence at the time. They reported the property crime to the police that morning, but the perpetrator was never found.

“I personally was really freaked out at first,” Leopold said. “It just weirded me out that someone was in our house, and we had no clue.”

Murphy said the perpetrator took her wallet from her desk while she was asleep in the same room.

“Even today, I don’t feel as comfortable in my house as I did before,” Murphy said.

Since the crime, the residents are more careful about locking the house before they go to bed, Murphy said.

From 2005 to 2013, Champaign experienced a downward trend in the number of reported home and auto burglaries, according to the CPD. In 2013, Champaign saw the lowest number of property crimes reported in 27 years.

However, two years later, this rate started to increase again and in 2016, this number spiked to the highest number reported since 1999.

Because of this spike in property crimes, the city allocated $300,000 from its budget to start the Property Crimes Unit through the CPD. The unit came into existence on Oct. 1, 2017 and employs a small staff of detectives.

David Griffet, detective sergeant for the CPD, is the supervising detective for the Property Crimes Unit.

In addition, the Property Crimes Unit consists of two full-time detectives – Detective Jody Cherry and Detective Robert DeLong. These detectives dedicate all of their time to investigating property crimes, Griffet said. They follow up on as many leads as they can to catch repeat offenders in the area.

Cherry said in an email the unit has made over 80 felony arrests since its inception in October.

“We have seen a decrease in the number of reported burglaries since the inception of the unit, but it’s too early to attribute that solely to the effectiveness of the unit,” Cherry said.

Griffet said before the CPD received funding for the Property Crimes Unit, it was difficult to allocate resources within the police department to investigate property crimes.

Griffet credits the 2016 hike in property crimes to the lack of resources. Before the Property Crimes Unit existed, the police department did not have enough manpower or time to dedicate to just property crimes. Griffet said the crimes started getting out of control.

The Property Crimes Unit is only temporary, Griffet said. The city could not allocate enough money to fund the unit for more than a year.

“(Cherry and DeLong) are doing things that would normally not get done because we didn’t have those resources,” Griffet said. “These guys are diligently following up every lead that they can and going through these cases.”

Griffet said many property crimes are committed by repeat offenders. Having a unit designated to investigate these crimes helps find the people who continually get away with it.

“By giving two people the responsibility to investigate the majority of these crimes, they’re able to see all the reports that pertain to these offenses within the city of Champaign and their location,” Griffet said. “They can tie them together sometimes.”

As of March 5, the Property Crimes Unit has recovered about $60,000 worth of stolen property, according to Cherry. He said this number would not have been as high if it weren’t for the unit.

Often, the Property Crimes Unit gets information from local pawn shops. Griffet said it’s likely that a perpetrator will sell stolen items to pawn shops in the area.

Leonard’s Pawn and Jewelry, 112 E. University Ave., helps the Property Crimes Unit by reporting every item it buys to a database. The store uses a service called Law Enforcement Automated Database Search Online, or LeadsOnline, after it buys items to resell in the store.

“Pawn shops are required by state law and city ordinance to report all property taken in on pawn or purchased,” Cherry said. “They must provide the police department with a list of that property within 24 hours, and they have to hold it for a minimum of 72 hours before they can resell it.”

After buying an item to resell in the store, an employee at Leonard’s uploads the report to LeadsOnline. From there, the Property Crimes Unit can link specific items that were reported stolen to items bought or pawned. Local businesses can access LeadsOnline for free; however, the CPD has an annual subscription that costs $8,627 per year. That money is taken from the $300,000 budget allocated to the unit.

Ron Bryant, owner of Leonard’s Pawn and Jewelry, said that every day after he closes up his shop, he submits a report to LeadsOnline. The Property Crimes Unit can then search stolen items and trace them back to whoever stole the items using the identification reported to the database. Bryant estimates that perpetrators sell stolen items to the store about eight to 12 times per year.

Bryant has been using LeadsOnline in his store for the past four months, after the police department approached him and recommended the service.

The only drawback, according to Bryant, is the police department recovers the stolen property and Bryant’s business loses money.

“Sometimes I’ve lost a couple thousand dollars and sometimes I’ve lost ten bucks,” Bryant said. “It hurts when you lose money. You lose sleep when you lose money.”

Cherry said this is usually solved by listing the pawn shop as a victim in the police report. That way, the shop will ultimately get reimbursed by the suspect if he is convicted.

Cherry said the majority of property crimes in his time investigating them have occurred because homes and cars are left unlocked. He estimates that about 75 percent of vehicle burglaries occur because the car was left unlocked, whereas unlocked homes account for about 25 percent of burglaries.

This is exactly what happened to Champaign resident Jeremy Hunt in February 2018.

Hunt said his son accidentally left the car keys inside Hunt’s car after retrieving his school bag the night before. When Hunt woke up early the next morning, his car was gone. Hunt said he was one of the first people outside in the morning after it snowed overnight. The perpetrators left footprints in fresh snow.

“I was able to follow the footprints of the folks and kind of trace their steps,” Hunt said. “They had been walking up to everybody’s front door and checking the front door and walking to everybody’s car and checking the cars up and down the entire street.”

Hunt said he could tell that two people were checking unlocked doors just by looking at the tracks. When the perpetrators got to his car, the footprints stopped.

Hunt filed a police report with the CPD that morning. He said the police followed up pretty quickly, but Hunt knew it might be a few days before he would see his car again, if he would see it at all.

Hunt said he didn’t want to wait for the police to get back to him, so he took matters into his own hands and reached out in Facebook groups to see if anyone had seen his car.

Someone a few blocks away noticed Hunt’s car parked in front of their house. The car was recovered, but not without some damage. The car’s radio was missing. Hunt said the damage cost him around $3,200, which was mostly covered by insurance.

Hunt said what really hurt, though, wasn’t the cost of the damage, but the fear of someone breaking in again.

“I’ve grown up here my whole life, and just to know that that would happen in my neighborhood, in a place where I grew up, it’s just disheartening,” Hunt said.

Hunt said his three children, ages six, eight and 10, were afraid for a while because they knew the perpetrators were checking for unlocked residences.

“It’s not fair to them especially,” Hunt said. “They don’t need to be worried about things like that.”

The perpetrators who stole Hunt’s car have still not been caught. Hunt said if he knows one thing for sure, it’s that he won’t ever forget to lock the door to his car or home again.

Griffet said most property crimes happen the same way Hunt’s car was stolen. The majority of perpetrators go door-to-door checking for property that is unlocked.

“A lot of people feel very violated and rightly so, but there are things that we can do to prevent some of that,” Griffet said. “You can keep your car locked. Don’t leave your belongings in plain view. Keep your private residence locked.”


Police nab suspects in break-ins

By Corey Davis

April 8, 2018

Police have made more than a dozen arrests in connection to a series of break-ins to local homes and business since the beginning of the year, according to authorities.

Cpl. Brad Summerlin, public information officer for the Rocky Mount Police Department, said 13 suspects have been arrested in connection with numerous break-ins since January. Summerlin said the residential and commercial break-ins have been scattered throughout the city and not just in one specific area.

“It’s just been outstanding police work in getting this many individuals and being able to solve this many cases in such a short period of time,” Summerlin said. “Through the efforts of our criminal investigation division property crime detectives following up on all the evidence and the community, we’ve been able to solve a lot of these crimes.”

Summerlin said to help avoid potential break-ins, it’s important for people to lock their cars and house doors and windows and secure their valuables in their homes. Summerlin said people need to be vigilant about unfamiliar people riding around their neighborhoods or walking and hanging around late at night.
“Just anything in the area that looks suspicious, you should call us so we can investigate it further,” Summerlin said.

He also suggested that home and business owners who are the victims of break-ins go on Leadsonline, which is known as the nation’s largest online investigation system.

“You can register your information online. If (anything is) ever was stolen – with the serial number, that can help us track down your stuff faster and help in the aid and recovery of stolen merchandise,” Summerlin said.

Summerlin said people can call and schedule an appointment with the Rocky Mount police for free security surveys of their homes. Police also will do vacation house watches when people go out of town.

“As the weather become warmer, people have the tendency of not being in their homes as much,” Summerlin said. “We’re really making a conscious effort to do everything as far as educating the people in the public about certain things they can do.”


NW Gold Buyers pawn shop raided by police

By Caleb Hutton and Eric Stevick

March 31, 2018

MONROE – On a billiards table in the center of the pawn shop’s back room, police pulled up a white sheet to reveal enough probiotics, Claritin and pregnancy tests to stock a pharmacy aisle.
Cardboard boxes full of pills, from Allegra to Zyrtec, lined the walls of the store. Many still had QFC tags.

Monroe police believe the owner of NW Gold Buyers knew he’d been fencingthousands of dollars in shoplifted goods online over the past two years.

On Friday morning, a half-dozen officers raided the business in a strip mall on Highway 99, the climax of a two-year investigation that led officers from the owner’s defunct pawn shop in Monroe to his new storefront near Lynnwood.

Police dumped a mound of Flonase bottles onto the floor in a back room, sifting through them for signs that they were obviously stolen.
“Whoa!” an officer said. “The fair market value is $2,500 for that box.”

At first they expected to be in the store all day, making an exhaustive inventory. Once they saw the scope of the task, they decided to bring all of the merchandise back to the police station, to add it up later. They picked things off shelves, off the pool table and out of the moving boxes.

Online ads say NW Gold Buyers will pay “top dollar” for jewelry, coins, watches and silver. Search warrant papers say the owner was, in reality, often offering 12 to 20 percent of retail value for razors, medications and other items that could be concealed and stolen en mass from legitimate stores. Customers showed up to sell, not to buy. The merchandise was kept behind a locked door. The business had a core of about 20 people who would sell goods, officer Nathan Erdmann said.

“It was all a front,” Erdmann said. “At the other one, he actually had stuff for sale up front, but that wasn’t what this business was about.”

The case began because of a missing vacuum cleaner. Theft prevention workers at a hardware store reported the possible theft in January 2016, and relayed that a new pawn shop in Monroe might be taking stolen goods. Erdmann studied security video from the vacuum case. He recognized the suspect as an often-homeless heroin user. He checked an online database and noticed “odd transactions that were not typical of items that would be purchased by a pawn shop,” according to the search warrant affidavit.

Rogaine, Nicorette, teeth-whitening kits, electric toothbrushes as well as memory supplements, allergy medication, routers and electric razors were standard fare. Other local businesses reported a spike in thefts of health and beauty products.

Hints that a large-scale investigation was under way can be found in 2-year-old arrest reports. One Monroe man, then 29, admitted in 2016 to stealing electric razors to pawn so he could buy heroin. He’d made 59 transactions for more than $7,600 at One Stop Pawn Shop over three months. He told officers he typically received 30 percent the product’s worth, indicating his theft total during that time was about $22,000.

Police worked closely with local businesses, enlisted undercover officers from other agencies, interviewed theft suspects and used confidential informants during the course of the investigation. Thieves told police they were making a beeline to the One Stop Pawn Shop.

Police believe the goods were sold online, on Amazon or eBay.

One Stop Pawn was closing in the fall of 2016, when Erdmann paid the owner a visit. Near the end of the chat, Erdmann shared his suspicions.

“I told him that the stores in Monroe were cleaned out of many of the items that he was buying because there was so much theft,” he wrote, in the affidavit for the search warrant that was served Friday. “I told him that if he was not already closing down his business I would be coming after him and find some way to charge him, because no reasonable person could look at the things he was buying and not know (they were) stolen … I asked if that made sense, and he acknowledged that it did.”

Even after the business was shuttered, Erdmann kept a watchful eye. He learned that the suspect would meet at night in and around Lynnwood with people wanting to sell bags of stolen goods.
A confidential informant reported being given specific lists of items to steal, including Prevagen, Viviscal, Crest 3D Luxe and Alli, an over-the-counter weight loss pill.
In February 2017, the new business was registered in a triangular strip mall on Highway 99, between Everett and Lynnwood.

Video surveillance showed people waiting in parking lots late at night for the pawn shop owner to drive up in a Mercedes to conduct business.

One confidential informant told police the owner was getting nervous, inquiring about any possible connection to Monroe and saying he’d heard there might be a rat.

Police noticed an extremely high volume of traffic into the store by a small number of people. One man made 85 sales since October 2017. A woman had more than 90 transactions during the same period. In the online database, almost all of the transactions were listed as gift cards.

The suspect “has a common practice of entering transactions as the purchase of a gift card or multiple gift cards, when it is obvious that a large amount of unknown items is actually brought in,” Erdmann wrote. “Additionally, the frequency with which the same people routinely visit the store, taking bags and bags of items in on an almost daily basis, and sometimes twice in a day, would lead any reasonable person to question whether the items were legitimately obtained.”

Police believe the store had taken in about $428,000 in revenue.

Outside the store, officers handcuffed the owner, 22, and booked him into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of attempted trafficking in stolen property.

His father and sister arrived at the strip mall minutes later. They declined to talk at length with a reporter, and instead waited and watched as officers loaded power drills and robotic vacuums into the trunks of their police SUVs


Rob Gronkowski: Second Arrest Made in Home Burglary

March 27, 2018

Another guy allegedly connected to Gronk’s home burglary has turned himself in and is behind bars … TMZ Sports has learned.

As we previously reported … Gronkowski’s house was burglarized on February 5 while he was in Minnesota for the Super Bowl.

Law enforcement tells us 28-year-old Eric Tyrrell turned himself in to Foxborough Police Tuesday afternoon … after being sought for two counts of receiving stolen property. He’s being held on $10,000 cash bail.

Another man, Anthony Almeida, 31, was arrested last Friday for B&E Nighttime, two counts of Receiving Stolen Property, and Malicious Destruction of Property.

Police say they recovered an Apple Watch, a Rolex, and 2 rare coins. They are still looking for multiple firearms that were taken.

FYI — Gronk PERSONALLY made the 911 call … saying “This isn’t an emergency … this is just uh, Rob Gronkowski calling. And while I was gone, my whole house got robbed while on the Super Bowl trip and I just got back.”


Police: Most stolen items end up in pawn shops

By Katy Andersen

March 1, 2018

BECKLEY/PRINCETON, W. Va. (WVNS) – It’s become far too common, your stolen items ending up in pawn shops.

“We inescapably end up with stolen property from time to time,” said Ron Wood, the owner of Flat Top Arms Incorporated in Beckley.

Wood has been in business for 18 years and says he’s seen an influx in the amount of stolen items coming into his shop. “You don’t want to have items that are stolen. You are going to end up losing money plus your reputation,” Wood said.

Chad Butler, who is a Detective with the Princeton Police Department, said stolen items ending up in pawn shops is a huge problem in Princeton. “Seems like everything that gets stolen ends up in a pawn shop,” Butler said.

Butler said it’s thieves trying to get a quick buck for a quick fix. So every week, he compiles a list of stolen items and then checks the entire store of the 4 pawn shops in the Princeton area. “Tools is the number one- people leave a lot of tools in their vehicle and out buildings,” Butler said.

This is a problem law enforcement in Beckley said they are also battling. “A pretty large majority of stolen items at some point find there way into a pawn shop,” Detective David Allard, with the Beckley Police Department, said.

Allard is also combing through local pawn shops for stolen items, but instead of doing it by hand like Detective Butler, he does it online through a nationally used database called Leads Online.

By law, all pawn shops in Beckley must enter every item they receive into the database. That includes the seller’s information along with the item’s manufacturer, a description and serial number.Then when an item is reported stolen, law enforcement can enter that information and hopefully find it.

“The more information we have when a person reports a crime, the more likely hood we will solve the case,” Allard said.

But not every agency is able to search through Leads Online because of it’s price tag. The program costs each department thousands of dollars.

Whether it’s by hand or online, both Detective Allard and Butler said they’ve recovered thousands of dollars worth of stolen items from area pawn shops.

As for Wood at Flat Top Arms, he said they’re constantly working with police to make sure stolen items don’t end up in his shop- or your home.

“There are a few times that we virtually know,” Wood said. “If you bring me a stolen item and we find out it’s stolen one time, you won’t ever bring me anything else.”

Police said the biggest problem they run into is when people report something stolen but they do not have the item’s serial number, which is crucial when trying to prove the item is yours. They recommend you go around your home and write down the serial number for big ticket items, especially guns and tools.

Also, they said do not wait to file a police report. As soon as you realize something is missing, call your local law enforcement.

Stolen shotgun suspect arrested 9 years after theft

By Camila Orti

February 23, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. – A stolen weapon case sat in a filing cabinet with no leads for nearly a decade until there was a breakthrough this week.

The La Vista Police Department located a gun and the suspect involved, nine years later, thanks to a national database.

Detective Harold Rappold received an interesting notification Wednesday.

“The hit was for a stolen shotgun, and the description, the serial number, everything matched,” Rappold said.

The computer program and national database, Leadsonline, flagged a sale at Guns Unlimited of a shotgun that had been stolen from Cabela’s.

“It shows the entire transaction,” Rappold said.

Rappold tracked down and cited the former Cabela’s employee, who admitted to the crime.

“First words out of his mouth were that he was young and dumb and was going to take responsibility for his actions,” Rappold said.

La Vista police, along with Omaha and other metro agencies have been using this online tool for nearly two years.

“Just in the short time we’ve had it, we’ve had several cases we’ve been able to solve using the Leadsonline program,” Rappold said.

Pawn shops take down the seller’s information, a photo, along with other information and enter it into the database.

“We take a picture of your ID, take a picture of yourself and take a picture of the product,” John Dineen with Sol’s Jewelry & Loan said.

Dineen said they even get your fingerprints to help law enforcement track down the individual or individuals involved.

“We don’t want those items coming into to us but if they do we want to get them back to their rightful owners right away,” Dineen said.

A city ordinance requires pawn shops to participate in the program.

Sol’s and other shops are hopeful the ordinance will be expanded so all secondary buyers will have to comply.

Pennsylvania AG rounds up 32 in alleged pawn shop theft ring based in Bucks County

By James O’Malley

March 1, 2018

Staff at two Bucks County pawn shops and more than two dozen “professional” thieves face conspiracy charges in alleged large-scale theft ring.

One owner of two Bucks County pawn shops, four of his employees and 27 “professional retail thieves” have been charged as part of an alleged large-scale theft ring the attorney general says preyed on people with addictions to turn a profit.

The state Office of Attorney General on Thursday alleged 35-year-old Michael Stein’s pawn shops Quick Cash Trading Post, in Middletown, and Morrisville Loan & Pawn Shop, in Falls, purchased for resale some $689,000 in merchandise stolen from chain retail stores.

Stein and his employees Victor Kline Jr., Lyle Lazar Boden, Joshua Fedalen and Brian Ernest Jancia dealt directly with the 27 accused of the thefts between January 2014 and October 2017, says a grand jury presentment, paying 30 percent or 40 percent of the items’ retail value and then selling the items for a profit online.

Known within the conspiracy as “boosters,” each of the theft suspects stole from stores on an almost-daily basis to support addictions to heroin and opioids, according to the grand jury.

The presentment says the broader investigation continues probing a larger ring of five stores “operating nominally as pawn shops” in Bucks, Philadelphia and Delaware counties.

“We are not done,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a news conference Thursday morning at the Falls municipal building, adding the investigation is ongoing and remains “very active.” He declined to comment when asked if more arrests were imminent.

Shapiro said Stein’s operation preyed on the drug addictions of the boosters, who he described as “professional retail thieves.” The 27 suspects have been charged with counts of retail theft and conspiracy.

“It doesn’t excuse their criminal behavior, but we’re working very hard to get them into treatment,” Shapiro said.

Stein, of Middletown, was arraigned before District Judge Jan Vislosky on counts of corrupt organizations, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, receiving stolen property and conspiracy. He was released on 10 percent of $50,000 bail.

His attorney Ryan Becker urged reporters after the arraignment to “look at the charges.”

“He’s not accused of stealing anything,” he said. “He’s only accused of not knowing the people he was dealing with had stolen these things.”

Kline, 46, of Philadelphia; Boden, 29, of Philadelphia; Fedalen, 26, of Sharon Hill, Delaware County, and Jancia, 28, of Holmes, Delaware County, all were arraigned Thursday on counts of corrupt organizations, receiving stolen property and conspiracy. Each was released on $50,000 unsecured bail.

Operating for years under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy – if the seller didn’t say an item was stolen, the store purchased items without question — Klein and his employees routinely purchased various new, still-boxed items, including kitchen appliances, computer equipment and vacuum cleaners, prosecutors say.

In addition to purchasing items from people who previously had admitted committing retail thefts, the employees in many cases suggested the alleged thieves return the stolen item to the store for a gift card, which the pawn shops then purchased for 50 percent of face value, the grand jury presentment says.

The two pawn shops over time allegedly purchased nearly 5,000 items from “boosters,” paying them some $290,000 for the stolen items, according to prosecutors. The stores profited from resale to the tune of more than $470,000.

Investigators began looking into the alleged theft ring in April 2015 after loss prevention agents, noticing an increase in thefts and tracking stolen products to pawn shops including Stein’s, approached police in Falls, the presentment says.

Falls police used an informant to sell purportedly stolen goods and reviewed pawned items in the online database “LeadsOnline,” the grand jury says. Both Falls and Bristol Township require pawn shops to use the private database to track items. As the investigation expanded, police reached out to county detectives and later to the Office of Attorney General.

Reached Thursday, District Attorney Matthew Weintraub applauded the charges as the result of a collaborative effort.

“We’re very happy with the arrests and to be able to shut down this corrupt organization,” he said, noting that county detectives remain involved with the investigation. “This is certainly something that’s on our radar at present and in the future.”


Canon City Police encouraging residents to register valuables in database

By Jessica Barreto

March 7, 2018

If your phone or computer is stolen and you can’t provide a serial number on record, police may not be able to find them.

That’s why Canon City police are helping community members register valuables for free.

They’re partnering with an online company to store data about your property.

It’s a new way to keep track of your valuables — a safeguard in the event that something happens to them.

“It allows us to kind of track it down and track down those properties to help solve a crime,” said Detective Athena Garcia with Canon Police Department.

Canon City’s Police Department now subscribes to the service LeadsOnline which gives detectives critical information on missing and stolen items right at their fingertips.

Even though police have pay to use it, residents can register for free.

On the site, you can catalog your valuables in case they turn up somewhere else, like a pawn shop.

“It kind of pinpoints where these items are pawned, who pawned them so we have a suspect in mind,” said Detective Garcia.

Every pawn shop in the state of Colorado is required to report its transactions and LeadsOnline simply uses that data to cross-check serial numbers with missing items.

If there’s a hit anywhere the country, police get an alert.

“By putting in the serial numbers, by having all that data available, specific identifiers, what models, serial numbers, everything helps us find those items,” added Detective Garcia.

Despite property crimes like burglaries dropping eight percent from 2016 to 2017, they still make up more than 75 percent of all crimes in Canon City compared to violent crimes.

But police say if you register your items, you can help solve your own case if they get stolen.

“The more people in the community that catalog their items, and write down the serial numbers, the easier it’s gonna be for us to be able to follow up on those cases,” said Sgt. Timothy Bell with Canon Police Department.


Paducah man arrested for allegedly pawning stolen firearms

By Krystle Callais

February 16, 2018

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — A Paducah man was arrested for allegedly selling stolen firearms.

On November 11, 2017, two handguns were reported stolen to the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department. The handguns were stolen from an unlocked car on Fairview Drive in Paducah.

The serial numbers of the guns were put into the national crime computer system as stolen.

On February 12, 2018, one of the handguns was sold at a local pawn shop.

Deputies say 21-year-old Rasheed Rashod Davonte Jones sold the stolen handgun.

The second handgun was found to have been sold at another local pawn shop.

Jones was arrested and charged with two counts of receiving stolen property-firearms.


Helena man charged with multiple counts of burglary, theft

By Thomas Plank

January 22, 2018

A 21-year-old Helena man is accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of tools.

Tyler Thomas Ross Nelson is being charged with two counts of burglary, two counts of theft and possession of burglary tools.

Nelson allegedly stole “Snap-On” hand tools, an air compressor and other tools from a garage from Jan. 9-16. Several of the tools were later discovered at a pawn shop.

Nelson was arrested after a search of his vehicle found tools fitting the description of those stolen from the garage, a pry bar, crowbars and a set of bolt cutters that are similar to those used in burglaries, according to court documents.


Suspect ID’d in jewelry theft

By Andy Morphew

February 16, 2018

A man out of Oklahoma City has been identified by Duncan Police as a suspect in last month’s robbery at Payne’s Jewelry.

John Dale Bradshaw is wanted in connection with the crime, which was reported Jan. 18, according to an affidavit filed in Stephens County Court.

The owner said five rings were missing. He reviewed security camera footage and observed a white male reaching over the counter and taking the display, which held five rings.

The Duncan Police Department shared the information with the Regional Organized Crime Information Center and, within the hour, received a call from a Nichols Hills officer.

The officer advised Duncan police that he was reasonably sure the male in the photo was John Bradshaw and was a target of an investigation of a similar crime a number of years ago.

With the reports from the Nichols Hill Police Department, Duncan police were able to search social media to find Bradshaw and see images resembling those from the alleged robbery.

After looking up Bradshaw, Duncan police searched a database of pawn shops and found a record of a John Bradshaw who pawned a 14-karat diamond ring in Oklahoma City the day after the robbery. The store confirmed that Bradshaw pawned the ring.

Taking a photo of the ring from the pawn shop, the owner of Payne’s Jewelry successfully identified the ring and gave a positive ID of Bradshaw after seeing a photo shown by police.

Another pawnshop owner in Texas called Duncan police Feb. 5 and said they had seen Bradshaw’s image and identified him as the man who had stolen about $4,000 to $5,000 in jewelry from the store in late January.

A felony warrant for Bradshaw has been issued for $25,000. He has been charged with grand larceny after former two or more felony convictions.


Redmond repeat burglary, theft suspect arrested again

January 14, 2018

A Redmond man who recently spent five years in prison on burglary and theft convictions was arrested Saturday after a report of thefts from several cars in northwest Redmond, police said. A raid of his home turned up guns, jewelry, coins and other items stolen in recent Bend and Redmond home and car burglaries, officers said.
Redmond police on Saturday received the report of thefts from several vehicles that had just occurred in the area of Northwest 10th Street and Birch Avenue, Sgt. Eric Beckwith said in a news release Sunday.

Residents said the suspect was seen leaving the area in a red Ford Explorer.

A Redmond officer found the Explorer and contacted Dennis Wayne Madden, 49, who Beckwith said had a window punch, a ski mask, gloves and other burglary tools.
Officers also found a purse belonging to a Redmond woman who reported it stolen the previous night, Beckwith said.

Police said Madden also matched the description of the suspect believed to be involved in several other thefts from vehicles where a window was broken to gain access to the contents.
After the arrest, Redmond police patrol officers and part-time Street Crimes Team members sought and received a warrant to search Madden’s home in the 2500 block of Southwest Cascade Mountain Lane, Beckwith said.

In the home, Beckwith said officers found items belonging to several victims of home burglaries and car break-ins in Bend and Redmond. The recovered items included three stolen firearms, jewelry, collector coins and a large number of small tools. Officers also found a commercial quantity of methamphetamine and other drug-related contraband, he said.

“It’s going to be an exhaustive process trying to match up all of the property with all of the victims that spans throughout Central Oregon, we believe including Bend and other areas,” Redmond police Sgt. Ryan Fraker told NewsChannel 21. “So that’s the process that we’re in right now.”

Madden was booked into the Deschutes County Jail in Bend Saturday afternoon on numerous theft charges as well as unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, ID theft, computer crime, criminal trespass and criminal mischief. He was held without bail on a parole violation.

“Madden has an extensive criminal history of burglary and theft, among other crimes,” Beckwith wrote in a news release. “He has taken advantage of many people in the Central Oregon area over the past decade. He recently served a five-year prison sentence for burglary and theft, related to a 2010 Redmond police investigation.”

At the time of the new crimes, he was on community supervision after his release from prison. Deschutes County Parole & Probation is assisting Redmond police with the investigation, Beckwith said.

“The Redmond Police Department has in our possession several known and suspected stolen items and will work hard to link the property seized during the search warrant to victims in the community,” the sergeant said.

Beckwith said police “would like to credit the detailed observations of the suspect and vehicle by theft victims for the arrest of Madden.” Also, detailed descriptions of stolen items and serial numbers in particular have led to linking Madden to other known thefts.

The sergeant reminded everyone to remove valuables from their vehicles, and urged people to itemize their property and record serial numbers and detailed descriptions.

To that end, Redmond police have partnered with LeadsOnline to assist community members with this essential task. Go to to create an online account where a person can document property and serial numbers.

This information is only accessible by the account creator, not law enforcement, Beckwith said. In the event of a theft or other loss, data can be easily retrieved and provided to police for a report.


Fort Wayne Police detective nets $1 million in recovered stolen property, from jewelry to Beanie Babies

January 23, 2018

When Fort Wayne Police detective Joseph Lyon saw four boxes of Beanie Babies in a pawn shop he knew they had to be hot.

“I looked at the manager and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’”

An hour later he got a call. Indeed, a woman had reported the day before that she’d had four boxes of Beanie Babies stolen.

“Guess what. You’re getting back your Beanie Babies,” he said.

The fabric toys that spawned a collecting frenzy a few years ago are part of the $1 million in stolen property that Lyon has recovered over the years, a rare accomplishment for a one-man show, he said.

How did he reach that Monday? “It’s one Xbox at a time. I just recovered one today.” Laptops are another item often snatched by thieves.

“Every 50 seconds in the U.S. a laptop is stolen,” said Lyon, who has cleared 848 stolen property cases.

Lyon has been responsible for finding stolen property in pawn shops and scrap yards since June 2011. He joined the Fort Wayne Police Department 22 years ago.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I saw 8 years old,” he said of becoming a police officer. “I’ve been living my dream every day.”

As one of the good guys, he uses a computer program called LeadsOnline. All Fort Wayne pawn shops and scrap yards, along with 21,000 businesses nationwide, record their transactions, including item serial numbers. When a victim reports a crime, information goes into the National Crime Information Center, which LeadsOnline looks at twice a day to find any hits on stolen merchandise sold to businesses.

Recording serial numbers and/or getting appraisals and photos of jewelry and reporting thefts as soon as possible are key to Lyon getting victims back their property.

“You think it’s a unique item,” Lyon said, “but there’s thousands sold. … But if I go in soon to a store with a photo, that’s probably your item.”

One business’ accountant noticed at tax time that it had a lot of sales but no corresponding money coming in. The business discovered an employee in charge of its inventory had been stealing jewelry over eight months, listing items as sold but taking them to pawn shops to sell, Lyon said. He was able to recover $129,000 worth of the jewelry including diamond rings and a necklace his wife liked, “But I didn’t have $19,000 lying around to buy it for her.”

He’s “recovered a musical instrument so rare that even the Philharmonic doesn’t own one,” he said.

He’s also found a 1952 amplifier valued at $12,000 that was stolen from a music store.

Lyon has seen three waves of narcotics in Fort Wayne during his time on the force, first crack, then meth and now heroin/opioids. This is the worst, he said. Police chief Steve Reed said Monday during a news conference on 2017 crime reports that much of the thefts going on here and nationwide are fueled by addicts stealing to buy drug.

“They’re so interested in getting that fix,” Lyon said, “they give the items to their dealer … Now when it reaches a shop, it’s passed through a couple of hands.”

The local shops are very cooperative with police.

“They don’t want to take in stolen items,” Lyon said. “… They’re one of the most regulated industries.”

One recently called him to say “We just took in something off the street because we knew it was hot. Come get it.”

Lyon guesses that only 0.1 percent of pawn shop/scrapyard transactions involved stolen items, and tracing the criminals is easier now that the shops require photo identification with a person’s name and date of birth and thumbprints. However, criminals making the transactions don’t always think those things through, which benefits Lyon’s work.

Some criminals sell stolen merchandise directly, and a number of social media apps end with buyers finding that the cell phones they’ve bought have been reported stolen.

If Lyon finds the stolen items before a victim files a claim, he’ll take a photo and process it into the police department’s property room, after which the victim is called to pick up the items. The judicial system allows a photo of the item to be used in court cases, so the victims don’t have to wait months or years for the return of the property.

If victims have filed an insurance claim, Lyon calls the company. If it doesn’t want it he’ll ask if they don’t want it if he can return it to the victim, and the answer is often yes. If it says no, the item goes back to the pawn shop.

Lyon recommends:

– Get jewelry appraised, during which photos will be taken.

– Take photos or make a list of serial numbers.

– Put photos or the list of serial numbers of your items on a thumb drive, not your laptop, which would likely be among items stolen. Store the thumb drive in a safe place that won’t be lost in a fire or tornado.

– Record your items and photos on LeadsOnline’s ReportIt section, which has free storage for photos, serial numbers and receipt scans. Go to

– Do a walk-through of your home after having visitors such as a cleaning lady or that cousin you haven’t seen in a while who just shows up. Otherwise, it might be months before you notice something is missing. By then, your stolen item may have passed through several hands and can’t be traced.


NCSO uses online technology to recover stolen property

By Michael Johnson

January 19, 2018

HOLBROOK — The Navajo County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) is using the internet to help burglary victims recover their stolen property.

NCSO is using a service called LeadsOnline, an online investigation system used by law enforcement departments locally, statewide and nationally. It’s a property tracking system that documents and reports items that are pawned and sold or transferred at multiple pawn shops throughout Navajo County, the State of Arizona and the Nation.

NCSO officials said they began using LeadsOnline in February 2010. The program was purchased and shared with all law enforcement agencies in Navajo County.

“This is an outstanding program. Utilized correctly, it is an extremely valuable tool for all law enforcement agencies in Navajo County,” said Sheriff K.C. Clark.

During the past several months, Clark says deputies have recovered “thousands of dollars worth of stolen property” by using the LeadsOnline technology.

On Jan. 8, for example, NCSO officials say they recovered a Rolex watch with an appraisal value of $34,000. The watch was photographed, documented and returned to its owner, who NCSO did not identify.
Deputies investigating a burglary at a business west of Snowflake used LeadsOnline to ID a suspect and recover several stolen pieces of property. Chief Deputy R.D. Moffitt said that suspect, who has not yet been publicly named because there are additional arrests pending, allegedly admitted to his involvement.

The system also helped deputies find additional stolen property, including $71,000 worth of computer and software equipment that the Snowflake business uses to run its machinery.

Not only is it useful in getting stolen property back to its rightful owner, but LeadsOnline, he said, is the link between investigators and missing items or individuals who may turn out to be instrumental in solving a homicide.

“It is truly a proud moment for that deputy, officer or detective when he or she can contact the victims of a theft or burglary and advise them that their stolen property has been recovered and the suspect identified, and his or her arrest is pending,” Clark said.


Next →