The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is joining law enforcement agencies all over the country in a collective effort which will make it easier to find and track stolen items that are later pawned by suspects.
State law requires that businesses holding second hand dealer’s licenses – like pawn shops - report transactions electronically to law enforcement, as long as the law enforcement agency provides the software to do so. The Sheriff’s Office will be using web based software provided by is Business Watch International USA, also known as BWI. The software registers items that are pawned, and information about who pawns them. The Sheriff’s Office will have access to the on-line database and will be able to search it for items that are reported stolen during burglary and theft cases. A letter is going out today to all such businesses in the county with instructions about how to comply with the requirements.
Currently, businesses holding second hand dealer’s licenses record information about the item being pawned and who pawned it, including taking a fingerprint. Periodically, the Sheriff’s Office visits the businesses and picks up a copy of those records. A clerk at the Sheriff’s Office enters the information into a database, which is then available for detectives working open cases. If an item is stolen in Monroe County but pawned in another county, a detective must contact that other county and ask them to search their records for similar items.
With the new system in place, the business holding a second hand dealer’s license would enter the information directly into an on-line database already being used by many Florida agencies, and agencies all over the country; a detective will then be able to access the database and search for a stolen item in any county that uses the same service.
The Sheriff will pay a yearly service fee of $8,000.00 for use of the on-line database. This cost will easily be made up in man-power savings, according to Sheriff Bob Peryam.
“This will save the time it takes for us to pick up the paperwork and to enter it in our database and it will also make the recovery of stolen property much faster and easier,” said Sheriff Peryam. “Right now, we are finding a lot of stolen items are being pawned in other counties and the time and effort it takes to find and recover them is monumental. We are looking forward to having this crime fighting tool at our disposal and the tool will only get more useful as more agencies get on board with it,” he said.