If burglars/thieves get away with something that belongs to you, how do you get it back, and what can you do in advance to increase the chances your property can/will be recovered? An expert on that topic spoke to the West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network this week – Detective Everett Edwards from the Seattle Police Special Investigations Section’s Pawn/Property Recovery Unit. He works with pawn shops, used-goods stores, and metal recyclers, seeking to recover stolen items.
Some basics you should know:
For one, Det. Edwards (right) said, state law requires that pawn shops and certain used-goods stores hold items for 30 days. Metal recyclers, five days. During those hold periods, the items are supposed to be logged into a central database called LeadsOnline (not for the general public – it’s aimed at law enforcement and businesses).
The 30-day hold period means it’s not much use looking for your newly stolen item(s) at a pawn shop; they would be keeping newly received items in a locked-up area, instead of on display. After those 30 days, then you can browse all you want.
And this database is a big reason why you want to follow police’s advice, offered over and over again: Record the serial numbers of your belongings; if there are no serial numbers, etch something into them; make note of any other distinctive marks. That’s because serial numbers, identifying marks, and anything else written/engraved on an item are all supposed to be entered into the database. So keep a list of these things, and take photos of jewelry, so it can be more easily tracked down if stolen.
That also can help you if you’re searching eBay, Craigslist, or pawn-shop websites – serial numbers and photos, not just for your own use, but to give to police so they can be included in the report and so you’ll be able to enlist their help if you do spot something that belongs to you.
P.S. Don’t keep that information on a computer desktop where it’ll be lost to you if the computer itself is stolen – send it to yourself via an e-mail account where you can retrieve the info from any computer, police advised in an earlier briefing.
The West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network meets most months on the fourth Tuesday, 6:30 pm, Southwest Precinct. You can also get involved via the WSBWCN Facebook group; you do NOT have to be a BW captain, or even member, to participate.