Pawn Shops, Cops Agree Online Data System Working

- LITTLE ROCK, AR -- With the scan of an I.D. and a couple keyboard clicks information is saved on a computer at USA Loans in Little Rock.

"It's all automatic," says Cheryl McClain, owner of USA Loans.

In a matter of seconds, McClain saves serial numbers, names and addresses of her customers and the items they bring in.

"All that data is compiled into a report every night, and that report is sent online," she says.

It's sent to a program called Leads Online -- a service that sells subscriptions to law enforcement agencies.

"It's created a number of good leads for police departments all over the place," Maumelle Police Chief Sam Williams says of the program. 

Williams' department is one of more than 40 agencies across the state with access to Leads Online.

"You recover some stolen property and you have some pretty good identification on the people that pawned it," Chief Williams says of the program's benefits. 

Last year, the state legislature mandated every pawn shop in Arkansas submit information to the database.  Williams says it was a crucial step to prevent thieves from targeting pawn shops that didn't report information.

With better record keeping at pawn shops, Williams says it's possible crooks will look more frequently to online marketplaces like craigslist and eBay.  But, he says, law enforcement is using technology to track stolen goods there too.

Back at USA Loans, Cheryl McClain is happy to use the Leads system. With the safeguards in place, she says only one percent of what she takes in ends up being stolen.

"If anything, it's a deterrent to the thieves," McClain says.

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