Boosting chances of getting stolen property back

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Stolen property cases can be hard to solve when police have little to go on.

They need more than vague descriptions.

Good record keeping such as pictures, the make and model of the item and serial numbers can go a long way in solving theft cases.

There’s a free service people can use to keep an organized record of their valuables and it has been a big help to police.

Greensboro police recommend people use ReportIt.

The general public can use the service to store pictures, serial numbers or other descriptive information for their property including electronics or jewelry.

ReportIt is a civilian property information system part of LeadsOnline.

“LeadsOnline is a property database system that we [use to] locate property in pawn shops or precious metal shops,” Det. T.H. Branson said.

Branson is a detective with the Greensboro Police Department in the non-residential property crimes section.

Per state law, pawn shops are required to document the items sold to the pawn shop as well as information on the seller.

Law enforcement has access to that information through LeadsOnline.

“The suspects have to use their identification, their driver’s license, to sell the property to the pawn shops and precious metal shops. It’s kind of like robbing a bank and leaving your driver’s license at the teller window,” Branson said.

In the event that someone’s property is stolen, he or she could use the itemized list created through ReportIt and submit that to police as part of the investigation.

Branson says the system works.

“We’ve located property in other states before,” he said.

ReportIt does not allow people to search for stolen items, but police say it has been a valuable tool for allowing the public to organize information.

Alliance Insurance Services owner Christopher Cook says pictures and documentation are also important when filing a claim.

He suggests people take a picture of every room of their house.

“A picture will help you a ton in the event of a theft or break-in or especially a fire,” he said.

Cook also says people have a misconception about how auto-theft claims are covered.

“Something stolen out of your automobile is a homeowner’s insurance claim. It is not an auto claim, so your possessions follow your homeowner’s policy.”