State Police Use Online Tool to Track Stolen Property Sold on eBay, Pawn Shops

The database tracks the record of sales to pawn shops and salvage yards to search for stolen items. Investigators also use it to search eBay for stolen goods offered for sale.

The database tracks the record of sales to pawn shops and salvage yards to search for stolen items. File|Patch
The database tracks the record of sales to pawn shops and salvage yards to search for stolen items. File|Patch

From a Maryland State Police news release:

From arresting a suspect charged with making bomb threats to finding stolen guns and jewelry at pawn shops, a database called RAPID maintained by the Maryland State Police is credited with tracking down stolen property. 

Since the inception of RAPID, the Regional Automated Property Information Database, in 2009, law enforcement agencies statewide have recovered over $18 million in stolen property. Using the tool, equipped with over 11 million searchable records, police can strategically search eBay in an effort to return more stolen property to the victims of property crime. Property includes jewelry, camera equipment, expensive electronic items, tools, lawn equipment, scrap and precious metals. 

Maryland was the first state in the nation to create a central database for the transaction of this kind of data, which has proved successful in solving property crimes and a variety of other crimes. Although the RAPID database is managed by the Maryland State Police, it is the collaborative effort among all law enforcement agencies in the state which has resulted in more stolen property recovered, more arrests and more closed cases.

In April 2013, the use of RAPID helped police locate a prime suspect in several bomb threats in Maryland. The suspect was later apprehended and charged on 15 counts of threats to government buildings.

In May 2013, Maryland State Police took a report of a burglary involving the theft of 20 firearms. A check of RAPID indicated the guns had been sold to a local shop, which resulted in criminal arrests and the recovery of all the stolen firearms. 

In July 2013, RAPID was checked during a homicide investigation. The information provided resulted in the apprehension of the murder suspect in Prince George’s County. In September, the Maryland State Police RAPID Team assisted in a jewelry store armed robbery. Using the database, sellers of the stolen merchandise were located, resulting in three arrests in three different armed robberies in Virginia and in Baltimore. 

“RAPID is one of the most effective tools to fight crime,” said First Sergeant Brian Gill, RAPID project manager. “As we continue to collaborate with our allied law enforcement agencies, the goal is to expand and strengthen the database to improve its efficiency.”

In 2009, a new law took effect requiring secondhand precious metal dealers and pawnbrokers to electronically report their transactions to the primary law enforcement agency in their county of operation.

RAPID became the state’s central repository for transaction data of all pawn, secondhand, precious metal, automotive dismantler transition records, and scrap metal dealers statewide. Due to the immediate access investigators gained to information about property sold to brokers, dealers and salvage yards, stolen property has been returned to victims in several states. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, property crime makes up slightly more than three-quarters of all crime in the United States. Homes, garages, cars and businesses are all susceptible to thieves. Most of these crimes occur during the victim’s absence, which makes prevention a critical component in planning for the security and the recovery of stolen property.

So what can you do to recover your property if it is stolen?

“The best thing you can do to assist police in the quickest recovery of your stolen property is to have a record of model numbers, serial numbers, photographs or a video of all of your valuables,” said Maureen Walter, a Maryland State Police property crimes investigator. “Be sure to keep this information in a safe place and not saved on your computer, in the event your computer is stolen, too.”

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Camille Keaton February 28, 2014 at 03:52 PM
I sure hope they are checking craigslist as well as all the new Facebook sights. Wish they were able to locate some of my stolen property.


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