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Urban and regional information systems association: Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) award application.

A. System

1a. Name: Regional Pawn Data Sharing System (RPDSS)

1b. Category: Enterprise Systems category

2. Executive administrator authorizing submission: See appendix A, pg. 7

3. System accomplishments\exemplary letter: See appendix B, pg. 8

4. User testimonials: See appendixes C1, C2, C3, & C4, pg. 9--13

B. Jurisdiction

1. Name of jurisdiction: Washington DC metropolitan area--specifically the nineteen local jurisdictions in the states of Maryland and Virginia, and the District of Columbia. These nineteen jurisdictions makeup the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG). See

2. Population served: 4.6 Million (approximately)

3. Annual total budget: $22,500,000 (COG Annual Budget--approximate)

4. Chief Official: David J. Robertson, Executive Director, 777 North Capitol Street, N.E., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20002-4290

5. Contact person for the system is:

Stephen Dickstein, Chief, Public Safety Programs, 777 North Capitol Street, N.E., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20002-4290. (P) 202-962-3261, (F) 202-962-3204,


C. System Design

1. Motivation for system development: Thieves in procession of stolen property and needing quick cash often turn to local pawnshops. Just about every kind of property that there is finds its way to pawnshops. Some of the more common types are electronic equipment (laptops, cameras, PDAs, TV's and stereos); power tools (chain saws, drills, nail guns, etc.); sports equipment (golf clubs, skates, etc.); lawn equipment (lawn mowers, digging machines, lawn chairs, etc.); jewelry (rings, watches, necklaces, etc.); guns (handguns, long guns, etc.) and on and on. Often new items still in their packaging find their way to pawnshops. These include computer software, razors, electronic equipment, CDs and DVDs, glucose monitors, over the counter medicines, tools, computers and a host of others. Pawnshops are required by law to report the items that they take in to the local police department. Local police departments often accumulated stacks of pawn tickets from the floor to the ceiling but were not able to effectively manage them. This caused stolen property to go undetected and criminals free to commit more crimes. Some local police agencies built databases and were able to query the thousands of pawn actions for stolen property. They were mildly successful. However, investigators understood that property stolen in one jurisdiction would more often than not end up in a pawnshop in a neighboring jurisdiction. On important cases investigators would call or fax a request for the neighboring agency to check its data if it was one of the few that had an automated database. The need was obvious--a regional system from which investigators could search for stolen property that ends up in any of the hundreds of pawnshops in the region. The investigators themselves from around the region joined forces to design an investigative tool to aid them in recovering stolen property. The end result of their efforts is the highly successful Regional Pawn Data Sharing System (RPDSS).

2. Specific service to improve: As described above many of the thousands of pawn tickets that were received by local police departments were not processed. Local police department were overwhelmed by the volume of such tickets and short on manpower to process them. The result was that they were filed away in boxes or stacked in the corner. Within these stacks were hundred of items of stolen property. One of the primary goals of the RPDSS was to capture the data from the pawnshops in electronic form so as to minimize data entry. One motto of the system is to "free investigators up to investigate". In a further effort to free up investigators for field duty was the automation of the serial number checking against the national database of stolen items. In the past investigators often spent entire tours of duty just running pawned property serial numbers in the for stolen 'hits'.

3. Unexpected benefits: Motorist who park at a local motel and leave golf clubs, a camera or laptop visible seldom have any expectation that it will ever be located and returned to them. However, with the aid of the RPDSS these crimes are being followed up on and the property is turning up in pawnshops. Citizens are impressed and very appreciative. Often stolen property has more sentimental value than real value. It is especially rewarding when nonreplaceable property is returned to its lawful owner.

4. System design problems: The system design is sound. If there was a short coming worth mentioning it would be the collection of measurable success data. Quantitative metrics as to how successful the system is were not included in the original design. These measures of success are collected externally and require additional steps on the part of the user. Future enhancements will attempt to automate the collection of information as to the recovery of property or the arrest of a suspect based on the use of the system.

5. What differentiates this system from others: This system was designed from the ground up by the police investigators who are using it. For the police investigator it is the perfect tool. The system is unique because it is a truly regional system that encompasses jurisdictions in three states (Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia).

D. Implementation

1. Phases of development: As I mentioned earlier the system really began being formed when police investigators from around the regional started meeting together and discussing what the perfect pawn data collection system would look like to them. They documented their discussion by making a 'wish list' of features and capabilities. Congressman Jim Moran was briefed on their efforts and the need for the system. The formal startup of the system began after the Congressman provided funding via a line item grant. The next phase was to formalize the investigators 'wish list' into a set of requirements. The requirements were then rolled into a Request For Proposal (RFP). Ten vendors responded to the RFP with their proposals. A 'Selection Committee' was formed consisting of both users and technicians. The proposals were evaluated independently by each member of the selection committee and then by the committee as a whole. The proposals were evaluated first on technical merits and then on financial merit. The winning proposal was number one in both evaluations. With the contract awarded equipment was purchased and the databases were built. A feedback button on each form allows the users to submit instant feedback on the system. Many changes and refinements took place in the first few months of operation. The feedback button is still present on each form so that users can submit any ideas they might have for improvements to the system. Originally only six of the nineteen jurisdictions took part in what was called the pilot phase. All of the nineteen jurisdictions are now on the system. There are 1,132 active users who have run 58, 117 queries thus far in 2006.

2. Modifications to original design: The system was well planned and only minor, mostly cosmetic, changes were made to the original design. The electronic importing of the pawnshops "Point of Sales" (POS) data required custom design for each of the each various formats used by different pawnshops. Seven different formats of the export data from the POS systems were identified and managed.

E. Organizational impact

1. User community served: More than a thousand investigators from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies use the system daily to investigate property crimes. These investigators serve departments in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Federal law enforcement agencies such as the U.S. Park Police, U.S. Capitol Police, Federal Protective Service and others also use the system.

2. Ultimate decisions/operations/services: Investigators develop leads based on the information in the RPDSS. A "Case Closure" report that shows how investigators have used the system to make criminal cases and recover stolen property is included as an attachment. (See Appendix D, pg. 14)

3. What were the quantitative and qualitative impacts: Six months into the operation of the system a user survey was conducted to gather information on how successful the system was. That information showed that 1320 arrests had resulted and that 4 million dollars in property had been recovered. At the time of that report we still in the pilot phase. A copy of that report is attached (See Appendix D, pg 14).

4. What effect has the system had on productivity: An independent study by the Virginia Tech University reported that 450 criminal cases that would have otherwise gone unsolved were solved using the RPDSS. Additionally, investigators are able to investigate matters that they would otherwise not have the time to do. Tons of property that would have gone unnoticed is now being returned its lawful owners.

5. What, if any, other impact has the system had: Neighboring law enforcement agencies who do not participate directly with the system have been granted query only access. These jurisdictions are closing cases almost immediately. Many of the jurisdictions are now beginning to plan their own regional systems.

6. How did the system change the way business is conducted: Let's assume that a digital camera was stolen from a vehicle parked at a motel in Washington D.C. The owner of the camera reports the camera stolen and the D.C. police take the report. If the owner knows the serial number of the camera (which is hardly ever the case) the reporting officer will note the serial number on the report. The report is turned in at police headquarters and if there was a serial number on the report it will be entered into NCIC as a stolen item. So far the business process is the same under the old system as it is under the new.

Under the old system the reporting officer might call his pawn unit and have them check the pawn transaction tickets in a week or two to see if by chance the camera gets pawned at a Washington D.C. pawnshop. In an ideal world the pawn unit would check with surrounding jurisdiction pawn units so that they could check their pawn transaction receipts to see if the camera gets pawned in a neighboring jurisdiction. With dozens of such cases occurring everyday none of this is likely to happen in the real world. The camera is lost forever.

In the new system one query of the RPDSS will determine if the camera is pawned anywhere in the region. The query could be by serial number (if it is known) or by make and model or other description. If the camera is not found during the first query the user can tell the RPDSS to alert him should the camera be pawned at a later date. When a camera matching that description is pawned the officer will get an email or text message on his phone indicating that the camera is now at a pawnshop.

Currently, the bulk of the users of the RPDSS are investigators. However, many of the agencies are beginning to train patrol officers in the use of the system. Generally speaking, more users means more cases solved.

F. System Resources

1. Hardware components: The RPDSS is a web-enabled database system. The system consists of two Dell PowerEdge database servers and two Dell web servers. Multiple high-speed (15,000 rpm) disk drives provide data storage.

2. Software components: The RPDSS uses an MS-SQL server database management system for the storage of its data. Query, analysis and presentation of the data is handled by a custom application. The foundation for the custom application is based on a pawn application developed by Business Watch International (BWI).

3. Data: The data in the RPDSS is relevant to pawn transactions. Information on the person (customer) and any property that they are pawning or selling is maintained in the database. Data elements include such items as name, address, driver's license number or other id, physical descriptions, etc are captured for the customer. Items such as serial number, make, model and description are captured for property.

4. Staff resources required to implement the system: Most of the development was contracted to Business Watch International (BWI). Locally, a lead technician was made possible through the National Institute of Justice CommTech program (40% FTE). COG also provided a program manager (20% FTE). Each jurisdiction provided staff hours during the integration of their agency (normal effort was two man weeks). The system continues to grow using a "train the trainer" approach.


A. Executive administrator's letter (re: section A, 2)
B. Summary of system (re: section A, 3)
C. User testimonials (re: section A, 4)
 1. Maureen Walter, Pawn Investigator, Montgomery County, MD
 2. Cathy Perry, Detective, Fairfax County, VA
 3. Linda Wuckovich, Detective, Arlington County, VA
 4. Rod Stephens, Detective, Montgomery County, MD
D. Case Closure Report dtd. June 2005
Regional Pawn Data Sharing System (RPDSS) Appendix B

Executive Summary

Pawnshops in the Washington DC metropolitan area as in most parts of the country are required by law to provide local law enforcement agencies with a complete and accurate description of all property that they take in. This reporting requirement is generally satisfied by making copies of all the pawn transaction receipts for the local police department. However, the departments often do not have the manpower to review the stacks of paper that they receive. Some have created computer databases which would provide better searching capabilities but still require considerable data entry efforts that the department may not be able to provide.

The Regional Pawn Database Sharing System (RPDSS) has been developed to serve the Washington Metropolitan area. Nineteen local law enforcement agencies in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia are sharing pawn transaction data through the Web enabled project. One of the primary goals of the system was capture all the pawn transaction data from pawnshops in electronic format thus avoiding the overhead problems of data entry.

The new regional system provides investigators with all the tools they could imagine. This is because the features of the custom system are based on 'wish lists' that were compiled during regional meetings of investigators over a period of more than five years.

In addition to the routine documenting, tracking and querying of pawn transactions, robust investigative features have been incorporated into the system. Among these features is the ability to automatically link individuals who reside at the same address, share a common phone number or who are otherwise associated.

Another feature of the system alerts investigators via their cell phone or pager when a person of interest conducts a pawn transaction or when a piece of property is pawned. Investigators can also set alerts based on accumulated dollar amounts or frequency of transactions within a set period of time.

The system checks every serial number of pawned items against the NCIC database. The design is unique because it uses an extract of the NCIC stolen article files to conduct the query in-house rather than routing a query of each serial number to NCIC. Using this method the serial numbers can be rerun an unlimited number of times without impacting NLETS or NCIC.

Because the system is Web based investigators with the proper authentication can access the data from any computer with Internet access. Within the first six months of operation the system resulted in 1320 arrests and the recovery of more than four million dollars of stolen property. An independent evaluation of the system by the University of Virginia Tech concluded that 450 cases that would have otherwise gone unsolved were closed as a result of the regional system.

This innovative information sharing system provides unprecedented regional information sharing enabling investigators to close extremely difficult or here-to-fore unsolvable cases. Victims are now reunited with their valuable keepsakes, many of which have immeasurable sentimental value, because of this system. This project succeeded, where others have failed, to garnish support from dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the very diverse region of our Nation's Capital integrating agencies in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. This unique achievement now serves as a model and inspiration for other data sharing efforts now underway in the National Capital Region as well as elsewhere in the country.

In brief, the Regional Pawn Data Sharing System demonstrates the success law enforcement can experience when agencies work together as a collaborative and are provided the technological tools necessary to fight crime across geographical boundaries.

Appendix D

Regional Pawn Data Sharing System--Success Reports

June 2005

By Bob Moseley, Consultant to the National Institute of Justice, CommTech Program

The Regional Pawn Data Sharing System (RPDSS) has been up and running for a little over six months. The system collects and stores data on all property that is pawned in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region. Detailed data is collected on the individual, who must show valid identification, as well as on each piece of property that is pawned. Law enforcement investigators can search through the database looking for property that may have been stolen. They can also search on information about the individual who pawned the items if they have a suspect name or description. Investigators can even setup an "Alert" and have the RPDSS send them an email when a certain piece of property or a person comes into the system.

In June of 2005 an e-mail survey was conducted of the 474 investigators with access to the system. These users include investigators from the nineteen local police departments and other regional or federal agencies such as the United States Park Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The survey asked investigators to report the details of arrests and case closures that were made using the RPDSS. The results reflected in this report are but a small sample of the success of the RPDSS as 16 of the 474 investigators responded to the survey.

Many investigators who are known to have closed significant cases did not respond to the survey because it would have required gathering data on cases that had been closed and the paperwork filed away. A detective in the Montgomery County Police Department summed up the difficulty of researching closed cases in order to respond to the survey in an e-mail that read "I have made several cases using the RPDSS system and would gladly sing its praise but time is critical and I have none to gather the past cases. Would an appreciation letter do b/c otherwise it is just to time consuming?"

The RPDSS is a flexible tool for law enforcement. It can be used in many different ways to aid investigators in the apprehension of criminals and the recovery of stolen property. One non-traditional use of the data is to locate fugitives and others wanted by law enforcement. A fugitive squad detective with the Sheriff's Office writes "I wouldn't say these qualify as closures, but there have been several occasions where our investigators have had trouble locating information about potential targets. By using the PAWN System we were able to locate target info such as full names, DOB's, etc. etc. We have also been able to identify addresses they are using or have used, as well as info on past/present associates. I think this is an extremely valuable resource and look forward to using it in the future."

In the remainder of this report I will summarize some of the case closure stories that were reported by the users of the system. When originally reported these cases contained defendant's names, case numbers and other law enforcement sensitive information. For the purposes of this report, which may be circulated outside law enforcement circles, all identifying information has been removed (where a name is required, for the flow of the story, identifying information has been changed).

Case Type: Theft from Auto

Although many very serious cases were reported as having been closed using the RPDSS such as commercial and residential burglaries (11), I'll begin my review of the cases with some examples from the Theft from Auto reports. There were 19 such cases reported in our small sampling. What makes these cases most interesting is that in the past, many departments have not had the resources to devote to closing these types of cases. An investigator in Montgomery County, which reported most of these 19 cases, commented that their citizens are pleasantly surprised when their property is now returned and the theft has been charged.

Case #1: Beginning in February of 2005, Montgomery County, Maryland had a rash of night time thefts from automobiles parked at local hotel parking lots. Most of the vehicles targeted were rental cars or had out of state license plates. The suspect(s) would usually break out one of the windows and then remove property left in the vehicles. The property taken would usually be laptop computers, digital cameras, memory cards or other computer related equipment.

A number of matches between the stolen property and property pawned were obtained. The property was then seized and recovered, returned to the owners and the suspect charged Four cases were closed by arrest, with an additional eight cases closed by exception1. In the four closed cases, over $4000 in recovered property was recovered and returned to the lawful owners.

Case #2: On 05-05-2005, an individual that we will refer to as Mr. Pond was the victim of a theft from his vehicle. The suspect took Mr. Pond's Apple iPod valued at $250.00 and his Samsung cell phone valued at $100.00. Because the iPod was engraved with his name ("Sam Pond"), this made for unique characteristics to search using the pawn system. A check of the RPDSS revealed that an iPod with an engraving of "Sam Pond" had, in fact been pawned.

A search warrant was subsequently obtained for the residence of the person who pawned the iPod (other investigate information was used to obtain the search warrant). Although a search of the residence did not turn up Mr. Pond's cell phone, evidence was uncovered showing possible thefts from a local Salvation Army location involving the suspect and his brother.

The suspects were arrested and charged with theft under $500.00, a misdemeanor, for the theft from Mr. Pond's vehicle. The suspect is on probation for a previous theft from auto charge. When his probation is revoked as a result of these new charges he has an eight month sentence to serve on the previous charge. In addition, charges are pending against the suspect's brother for the thefts from the Salvation Army.

Case #3: There were several other cases reported. Most involved pretty straight forward tracking of the stolen property to the pawnshop where the thief pawned it. Some of the property was found pawned in neighboring jurisdictions. In the past this would have required numerous calls to all surrounding jurisdictions asking them to look in their pawn system to see if the property had been pawned in their jurisdiction. Now it's just a routine query in the RPDSS.

Case Type: Theft of Government Property

There were two cases of Theft of Government Property (one federal and one county). Many of the cases reported involved a theft by someone who had access to the property by virtue of their job such as a maintenance worker in an apartment complex. In the two cases below the theft was committed by employees who later pawned the property.

Case #1: In this case approximately $1,000.00 worth of tools was recovered. A suspect, the individual who pawned these items, was charged with four counts of Theft of United States Government Property, and pled guilty to one count of theft. The individual is due for sentencing this month. The Burglary took place in September 2004, and the pawned items were not entered into the system until December 2004. Charges were brought in February of 2005. The difficulty involved with this case was due to a lack of serial numbers being recorded by the government agency during the identification of items after they were recovered. The suspect was a former employee, and the case was solved through a customer search of the RPDSS database.

Case #2: A detective in Montgomery County Maryland reported having been assigned a case where an employee was suspected of stealing county property (laptop computers). After checking the RPDSS it was discovered that the employee (suspect) had pawned the county's laptop computer. Up until this point there was no probable cause for arrest. This suspect was arrested on January 19, 2005 based on this information and charged with Theft Over $500.00 and Obliteration of Serial Numbers. The suspect pled guilty in March of 2005 to Theft Over $500.00 in District Court and was ordered to resign from their county position. The value of the computer was placed at $2800.00. The case may not have been solved had it not been for this system.

Case Type: Commercial burglary

Theses cases demonstrate a straight forward use of the RPDSS. Most of the suspects apprehended using the system are repeat offenders. Not necessarily in the sense of having been arrested numerous times but more in the sense that they commit the act of theft habitually.

Case #1: A Herndon Virginia police sergeant reports that one of his detectives was investigating a series of laptop computers being that were stolen from the same company over a period of about 4 to 5 months. The computers were being taken from an area that had controlled access entry and therefore it appeared that an employee may have been involved. The detectives started running employee names through the RPDSS and located an employee of the company who made several sales to a pawnshop in Maryland. A subsequent interview with the suspect resulted in the clearance of 5 grand larceny cases in our jurisdiction as well as at least 4 cases in a neighboring county. It should be noted that we obtained authorization to use the system just a short time before and it was a great help in clearing these cases. It is possible that these cases would have been cleared eventually by calling various jurisdictions and asking them to check their pawn records. However, the RPDSS system greatly expedited the discovery and arrest of our suspect. The suspect was eventually charged with two counts of embezzlement in Virginia County in April of 2005. Two laptops which were still in the suspect's possession were recovered. The other laptops had already been sold prior to identifying the suspect.

Case #2: Takoma Park Maryland police department reports that it has had a number of successful cases related to the RPDSS database. On October, 13 2004, Takoma Park experienced a commercial burglary at the Quick Lube. The preliminary investigation stalled due to a lack of leads. Shortly after RPDSS went on line, I located a Dell Dimension CPU within the RPDSS database, which had been taken in the burglary. Based on this information I was able to obtain an arrest warrant for the suspect in this case who ultimately plead guilty to receiving stolen property.

Case Type: Residential Burglary

The crime of burglary is a serious and dangerous felony. Many victims have been assaulted and even killed when they have stumbled across a burglary in progress. I'm delighted that the RPDSS has been successful in the apprehension of such criminals.

Case #1: An investigator in Fairfax County reports: I was assigned a burglary case where I suspected an apartment maintenance man of stealing items from various apartments that he was doing work in. I first had a case involving stolen cash, but I did not run the suspect in the RPDSS because in that case, money only was involved, not property. I called in the maintenance man for an interview, and he would not confess to stealing the cash, although his demeanor during the interview indicated deception. I later was assigned another burglary case from the same complex. This time camera equipment, a stereo system, and a DVD player were stolen. This case was identical to the others because the tenant had requested maintenance to come in the day that the theft occurred. I then ran the suspected maintenance man through the RPDSS and found that he had 37 pawn transactions in Maryland County (this is a Virginia case). A lot of these transactions involved jewelry. I theorized that the jewelry was taken from apartments that the suspect was doing maintenance work in, also, and that probably, the owners didn't even know the items had been stolen. I learned during the investigation that the particular maintenance man also worked at a complex in a nearby City. I contacted the Crime Analyst there, who advised of similar burglaries and thefts in that complex.

Through RPDSS, I located a Canon camera that the suspect had pawned. It had been pawned by the suspect the same day as the burglary occurred, 3-22-05, for $20.This camera matched the description of one of the complainant's stolen items. I seized the camera from the pawn shop, and it was later positively identified by the owner as one of the items stolen from her apartment. The suspect was later arrested. The suspect confessed that he was stealing and pawning to support his crack cocaine habit. The case could not have been made without the RPDSS database.

Case #2: On November 27, 2004, Takoma Park Police investigated the report of a residential burglary which occurred during the Thanksgiving holiday. During this burglary, the suspect removed a digital camera from the residence. The victim was unable to provide a serial number. Using the search features of RPDSS, I was able to locate a digital camera pawned within days of the burglary. I responded to the referenced pawn shop and was able to link the camera to the victim via digital images stored on the camera. I was also able to link the suspect to the camera since he had taken a "self portrait" of himself with the camera. I obtained warrants for this suspect who ultimately entered a plea agreement with the States Attorneys Office.

Case #3: February 18, 2005 a residential burglary occurred which resulted in two arrests. Each defendant was charged with 1st degree burglary and theft under $500 and one defendant was charged with theft over $500. A total of $2,825 of property was recovered. All the jewelry was found in a property search of the RPDSS system.

Case #4: In April of 2005, a burglary occurred at a residence in Maryland. Expensive jewelry and cash were taken from the residence. A pawn hit on one of the stolen watches led to a search warrant with additional stolen property recovered. One suspect was charged, in the case, with 1st degree burglary, felony theft and possession of stolen property. $7500 in stolen jewelry was recovered, $5000 of which was recovered at a pawn shop as a direct result of the RPDSS system.

Case Type: Grand Larceny

Grand larceny cases can take on many forms. As the name "Grand" implies these cases involve sizable losses. Increased insurance rates, consumer prices and a host of other impacts that ultimately get passed back to us result from these types of crimes.

Case #1:--GRAND LARCENY AND ATTEMPTED MALICIOUS WOUNDING OF a POLICE OFFICER--Suspect was arrested in reference to an attempted malicious wounding of a police officer during an apprehension for a grand larceny incident. The subsequent investigation and check of the RPDSS revealed that the suspect had actually been stealing and selling or pawning the items at a pawnshop in Prince George's County Maryland (this is a Virginia case). Over 30 items were recovered ($10,530 worth of stolen property was seized) after being located at one pawnshop. This one suspect is believed to have been responsible for stealing over a hundred items from various stores in Virginia

Case #2:--GRAND LARCENY AND FOUR (4) RESIDENTIAL BURGLARIES When a detective requested that I check a suspect name in the RPDSS, reference four burglary cases, I did not come up with the property he was initially looking for which was jewelry. After checking the RPDSS, I informed the detective that the suspect had pawned a camera, he stated that the company the suspect worked for said that the suspect had reported the item as lost/stolen and she didn't know where it was. A grand larceny report was taken for the camera which helped develop Probable Cause for the detective to get an arrest warrant for the suspect. When the suspect was located/arrested other pawn tickets were found on the suspect's person and in her vehicle. This investigation concluded with the seizure of $42,115 worth of jewelry and the one camera.

Case #3:--GRAND LARCENY FROM AUTO--A detective requested I check RPDSS for a suspect name referenced in a larceny from auto incident/check fraud case he was investigating. Unfortunately, I did not find the property he was looking for but the suspect did have a pawn transaction where he sold numerous pieces of musical equipment and some instruments. I recalled another detective that had property similar to this from another grand larceny from auto incident. After she verified the serial number on one of the instruments, I was able to recover all the property in the amount of $3,120 from that incident.

Case #4--GRAND LARCENY--After determining a possible suspect referenced in a grand larceny incident, I checked the name in RPDSS and located the suspect along with the stolen piece of jewelry which he sold to a pawnshop. The time frame of the theft fit the transaction date and time perfectly; same day of theft, approximately 45 minutes after the theft was reported, and the description of the item matched. Based on this RPDSS information, the detective was able to obtain a felony warrant and the stolen item worth $3,250 was recovered.

Case #5: GRAND LARCENY--After obtaining a possible suspect vehicle tag that was in the area of a grand larceny incident, the detective provided me with the name of the registered owner to check in the RPDSS and to specifically look for toner cartridges. This detective had been investigating a series of larcenies of toner cartridges involving one to two possible suspects. When I checked the suspect name in RPDSS, it came up with multiple transactions of toner cartridges along with numerous other transactions involving various other items of property; probably stolen as well. By matching up the dates of transactions involving toner cartridges and the dates of "reported" thefts, the detective was able to get a warrant for grand larceny on the suspect. Additionally, I was able to provide the detective with another possible suspect name that might be involved/working with the other suspect and all various toner cartridges pawned/sold by both have been placed on police hold but have not been seized at this time. (Note: One toner cartridge ranges in price from $160-$220. The one suspect, from April 8, 2005 till May 20, 2005, sold 37 toner cartridges to one pawnshop. The second suspect, from April 13, 2005 till May 18, 2005, sold 75 toner cartridges to one pawnshop). Unfortunately, we will not be able to recover all of the toner cartridges, but we should be able to seize over 100 toner cartridges.

Case Type: RPDSS Closures

The RPDSS has many analytical features built into it. As I mentioned earlier, these types of theft are often committed over and over again by the same individuals. In some cases, we see individuals who pawn items several times a day--every day. The system is able to tally pawn transaction and identify trends which indicate criminal activity.

Case #1: 1. Our pawn unit (Montgomery County Maryland) noticed a female selling over 25 new computers and "InFocus" projectors (all new in box). Investigation revealed that the items were all taken from 3 stores in two Maryland Counties and the total amount of the theft was approximately $100,000. Investigators noticed that there was a related person in the relationship table of the RPDSS and were able to link that person to the case. Two arrests were made and approximately $50,000 worth of new items was recovered.

Case #2: While conducting a search for a Panasonic laptop computer, this writer found a single seller who had pawned/sold approximately 10-12 Panasonic laptops. These computers were pawned in Virginia (this is a Maryland report). Investigation revealed that they were stolen from Virginia and possibly California. Further investigation is being conducted.

Case #3: Our pawn unit conducted a top pawner report and found a seller who had approximately 7 transactions including several television sets, stereo equipment, cameras, and jewelry. An NCIC check showed the property to be stolen from two counties in Maryland. At least 3 cases were closed and all property was returned to the owners.

The Regional Pawn Database Sharing System (RPDSS) was funded through a congressional earmark from Congressman James Moran. NIJ funded support staff who oversaw the design and development. For more information visit the NIJ CommTech website at or contact CommTech team member Bob Moseley at


(1.) Uniform Crime Reporting Standards allows cases to be closed "by exception" when the identity of the suspect is known but the case can not be prosecuted for other reasons.
Table 1: Types of case closures.

The following table shows a breakdown by the types of cases being

 Theft of Theft
 Commercial Residential Government from
 Burglary Burglary Property Auto

Reported 2 9 2 19
Extrapolated (1) 60 270 60 570

 Grand Recovered
 Larceny Shoplifting Arrests Property

Reported 10 2 44 $143,840
Extrapolated (1) 300 60 1320 $4,315,200

Note 1. Extrapolation, with only 1 in 30 users responding, assumes
that those responding were average and that those who did not respond
to the survey had equal success. On the other hand it also assumes that
those responding noted all their cases and not just the note worthy
ones. (44 times a factor of 30 = 1,320)
COPYRIGHT 2006 Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Urban and Regional Information Systems Association Annual Conference Proceedings
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Geographic Code:1U5DC
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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Enabling the enterprise Brampton's Web-Based GIS Solution: GIS services the corporation of the City of Brampton.
Delware County Economic Development.

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