Omaha police returned $1.2M in stolen goods since property-crime law took effect in 2016

October 29, 201

By Chinh Doan

Omaha police say they have recovered $1.2 million in stolen property through an online registration program, but some businesses have privacy concerns.

OMAHA, Neb. — “There are many people who have had jewelry stolen,” said Sgt. Tina Jennum with the Omaha Police Department’s pawn/salvage squad. “Sometimes, we’re able to find that property, and I know they are really grateful because it was their grandmother or grandfather who gave them a watch or a ring, and they’re really happy to get it back. It doesn’t matter the value of it. They just want it back for sentimental reasons.

That’s more than 1,300 items recovered since 2016, when the city started requiring pawn shops and salvage dealers to use a nationwide registration system called LeadsOnline. Second hand shops were also required starting in 2019.

Jennum shared this breakdown at Tuesday’s City Council public hearing:

2016: over 430 items held, valued at $336,000
2017: 293 items held, valued at $330,000
2018: 358 items held, valued at nearly $400,000
2019 (through Sept.): 224 items held, valued at $137,000

The ordinance requires businesses to log sellers’ fingerprints, photos and IDs and hold the items for 14 days before paying the seller.

At the Nov. 5 City Council meeting, members will vote on a five-year contract to continue with LeadsOnline for about $56,000 a year.

Councilman Pete Festersen sponsored the ordinance and told KETV NewsWatch 7 the program is worth it.

“Until now, we haven’t really had that mechanism, so we’re very pleased with the results, and we think it’s deterring burglary and theft throughout the city,” said Festersen.

Sol’s Jewelry and Loan is among the hundreds of Omaha businesses using LeadsOnline, as required by the ordinance.

General manager, John Dineen, told KETV NewsWatch 7 the program saves time for staff and law enforcement.

“Instead of having an officer come out, pick up hard copies and spending those resources, now it’s a straight download,” said Dineen. “The police have them right in their cruisers.”

A few businesses told KETV NewsWatch 7 LeadsOnline hurts their business.

Tom white, who represented two salvage yards, sued the city over privacy concerns. His clients still comply to the ordinance by electronically sending the required information to police directly rather than uploading on LeadsOnline.

“If they, LeadsOnline, had a breach in their security, and that information was taken, they had no liability, leaving you as the business on the hook for the damage done to your own customer,” said White.

Dineen and other supporters of LeadsOnline say the program has been around for years and have not had any security concerns.