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Barry County Sheriff's Department launches campaign to raise money for investigative tool

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Barry County Sheriff's Department has launched a campaign to raise money to subscribe to an on-line service that helps local law enforcement officials recover stolen property.

Doug Henry, a detective with the sheriff's department, is heading up the fundraising effort. His goal is to raise at least $1,600 from local individuals and businesses to pay the annual subscription cost to join the LeadsOnline investigative network

LeadsOnline, based in Dallas, Texas, is the nation's largest on-line investigative system that provides law enforcement agencies across the United States with a comprehensive database of transaction records from businesses that take in property from the public. The database is easily searchable and currently includes almost 200 million records.

Detective Henry has used the LeadsOnline service on a trial basis twice in the past year. Both times, the service has resulted in the recovery of in stolen property. According to Henry, the property he has recovered is valued at over $200,000.

Just last month, Henry used LeadsOnline to track down a $1,500 wedding ring stolen from a residence in the Washburn area. The service was also used by Henry last February to help bring down a large burglary ring that was operating in the Barry County area.

"You can punch in a person's name and LeadsOnline will store that name in its system," said Henry. "If that person pawns anything, they'll send me an e-mail.

"I have no doubt that LeadsOnline will increase the percentage of property we're able to recover," added Henry.

Returning victims' stolen property is just one of the benefits of subscribing to the LeadsOnline service, according to Henry.

"It doesn't just stop with getting property back," said Henry. "It's what you find after you arrest them. It can really snowball from there."

Henry said Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly is "100 percent behind" the fundraising effort.

"It's something the sheriff would like to see happen," said Henry.

Due to a tight budget year, the LeadsOnline subscription fee was eliminated from the sheriff department's 2009 spending plan and it is doubtful it will be included in next year's budget.

LeadsOnline is always looking for new ways to assist law enforcement agencies, and Henry said tracking stolen cattle by monitoring livestock sold at sale barns might be something the company adds to the service that currently tracks items sold through pawn shops, salvage yards, E-bay and Pay Pal.

Henry said he would like to see more local pawn shops participating in the LeadsOnline service, which is free to shop owners.

"It doesn't cost pawn shops a dime, and it also helps them track their inventory better," Henry said.

For more information on LeadsOnline or to make a donation, contact Henry at 847-6556.

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