By Associated Press - Wednesday, February 11, 2015

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - Pawn shops and secondhand stores in Flint will be required to report sales and purchases electronically as part of an effort to crack down on theft.

State-appointed emergency manager Jerry Ambrose this month signed an ordinance amending the reporting process, The Flint Journal reported ( ). Police chief James W. Tolbert said the old system of filling out paperwork that ended up at police headquarters didn’t work.

“We have simply placed the pawn slips in boxes, unopened and stored away,” Tolbert wrote in a memo to Ambrose. “I cannot imagine what we have missed in stolen evidence and persons who commit burglary on a regular basis.”

Tolbert said that Leads Online, an online investigation system for law enforcement, will provide its software to stores with the cost added to merchants’ license fees. Tolbert said he believes that “will have an effect on those who burglarize homes in Flint.”

The revised ordinance also requires businesses to send photos of customers who sell items in addition to descriptions of merchandise.

The old process at one time worked well, police said. Merchants filled out slips, detailing the items purchased, the price and identification of the buyer or person pawning the item. Volunteers then would enter the information into a database for use by police.

“The database broke years ago and (was) never repaired,” Tolbert wrote. “Volunteers have not been here at least five years and no one has done anything with the pawn slips we have been receiving.”

Tolbert, a former deputy chief with the Detroit Police Department, was appointed Flint’s police chief in 2013. Some other police chiefs in the Flint area said a regional system is needed for tracking transactions at pawn shops and secondhand stores.

“It’s going to help our detectives solve a lot of crimes and recover a lot of property,” said Flint Township Police Chief George Sippert, who supports an electronic reporting system.

Mark Aubrey, president of the Michigan Pawnbrokers Association, was unaware of the change in Flint, but said his organization has been working with legislators on a statewide system “that would benefit not only law enforcement, but also the pawnbrokers and consumers.”

“A statewide electronic system would benefit all parties,” he said. “However, it has to be done the right way. Right now local municipalities are mandating different rules and fees which make it unfair to some.”


Information from: The Flint Journal,

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