Electronic Reporting System of Minnesota Pawnshops Are Gold Mine for Police

May 14, 2015

An internet listing of computers, iPads, bikes and other items that are sold to pawnshops in Minnesota and Wisconsin is found very helpful by police officers trying catch thieves and recover stolen properties.

In 2014, 260 police agencies that used the Automated Property System (APS) were able to recovere roughly around $1.2 million worth of property. This is according to the APS unit head at the Minneapolis Police Department in Hennepin County, John Elder.

Elder said that APS has proven itself as a gold mine for policemen providing them with tips for solving different kinds of crimes. He mentioned the arrest of a suspect who shot a resident of Brooklyn Park in  a 2004 home invasion as one of the examples of the crimes solved with the help of APS data. Elder said that the items stolen from the house of the victim were sold at a pawnshop in St. Paul by a woman who declared that the items where from his boyfriend who was later on arrested by the police.

What the APS keeps tracks of are serial numbers of property transactions of pawnshops, secondhand stores and precious-metal dealers. The 93 pawn stores of the system located in many different cities upload transaction details that usually include the photo and driver’s license of a person to the APS computers every night. What happens next is that APS tries to match the serial numbers of the pawned items with that of the stolen properties that are listed at the Crime Information Center. The hits are sent every day to the police in the city where the possible theft took place.

Jason Cardinal, a pawn detective, said that the tips that he received from the APS has helped him solve at least six burglary cases in the past 18 months and mentioned that the items stolen in the state are most of the time pawned in Fridley because the thieves believe that the place is less risky. However, all the metro area shops already upload customer identification data and serial numbers of pawned properties every night into the APS system making their jobs a whole lot easier.