(Pikesville, MD) – Police across Maryland are no longer slogging through reams of log sheets with outdated information thanks to a new law requiring the electronic and prompt reporting of items sold to precious metal dealers and pawnbrokers, coupled with the development of a database accessible to law enforcement statewide to manage the information.
In just one month, police in every region of Maryland have had investigative successes because of the new law and resulting database of information. On October 1, 2009, a new law took effect that requires second hand precious metal dealers and pawnbrokers to electronically report to the primary law enforcement agency in the county of his/her operation, by noon the next day, all purchases of jewelry, precious metals, and other secondhand goods.
In order to manage the incoming information and make it accessible to law enforcement throughout Maryland, state officials developed RAPID, the Regional Automated Property Information Database. RAPID is the States central repository for transaction data of all pawn, secondhand precious metal and automotive dismantler transition records. It enables police departments statewide to immediately gain access to timely information about property that has been sold to pawnbrokers, precious metals dealers, or vehicle salvage yards.
We are pleased to see that access to time sensitive, comprehensive information through a state database has so quickly impacted the ability of law enforcement agencies to solve crimes, recover stolen property, and bring criminals to justice, Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel Terrence B. Sheridan said. This is an excellent example of how Maryland government can work to support local law enforcement and, by working together, make our State safer.
The RAPID system is a working example of Governor OMalleys security integration mandate, said Kristen Mahoney, the Director of the Governors Office of Crime Control and Prevention. State and local law enforcement agencies have developed a valuable information sharing tool, which provides them with timely and accurate statewide pawn shop information. With this information, police agencies can prioritize their collective investigative resources to aggressively reduce property crime throughout Maryland.
During October, the first month of statewide reporting to the RAPID database, police in Maryland have recovered more than $50,000 worth of stolen property. They have served multiple search warrants and made criminal arrests for burglary, theft, and theft scheme.
The St. Marys County Bureau of Criminal Investigation used RAPID to close three theft cases, arrest the suspects involved, and recover almost $11,000 of stolen property. Howard County Police used RAPID to assist Fairfax County, Arlington, (VA), Montgomery County and Baltimore County (MD) authorities in solving a string of open house thefts, where jewelry and cash were being stolen. An arrest has been made and more than $13,000 in stolen property has been recovered so far.
In just two weeks, police with the Wicomico County Bureau of Criminal Investigations used the RAPID system to arrest two suspects who have been linked to at least seven burglaries in Maryland and Delaware. Police have recovered more than $5,000 worth of property stolen in the burglaries. During this investigation, police also identified a precious metal dealer who had listed a $2,000 diamond tennis bracelet as scrap. This information was turned over to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation and appropriate charges are being filed against the dishonest dealer.
Investigators from the Frederick County Sheriffs Office were following up on a theft investigation by using the RAPID system, when they noticed that two individuals sold tools at multiple pawn shops in the county. Further investigation found the tools had been stolen from Pennsylvania and Virginia. Police recovered more than $10,000 worth of stolen tools. Charges are pending against the suspects.
Due to its statewide reach, the RAPID database program is coordinated by the Maryland State Police. Coordination assistance is provided by the Governors Office of Crime Control and Prevention, and a County Administrators Board, comprised of county and state law enforcement representatives from throughout Maryland. Because of the proprietary and law enforcement sensitive information contained in the database, security is a top priority. The database is maintained in a secure location at the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center.
Another important RAPID partner is the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. This department of state government issues licenses for pawnbrokers and secondhand precious metals dealers. DLLR officials work with law enforcement to identify those buying secondhand property who may not be licensed to do so. For instance, a recently advertised used jewelry buying event on the Eastern Shore was cancelled after it was determined the out of state buyers were not licensed in Maryland to purchase secondhand precious metals. Any gold buying operation in Maryland must be licensed by DLLR and should list that license number in their printed advertisements.
During the summer of 2009, personnel from DLLR, the Governors Office of Crime Control and Prevention, and the Maryland State Police provided regional training across the state about the new law and the new information database. The training was provided to law enforcement personnel and to pawnshop and precious metals dealers.
The OMalley-Brown Administration has made the integration of technology a priority for public safety initiatives in Maryland. The RAPID system is another example of how the computer-based coordination of statewide information can provide police with a daily update of secondhand items pawned, sold to precious metals dealers, or salvaged at auto yards. Police investigating burglaries and thefts can now act quickly to not only recover the stolen property, but bring those criminals responsible for the thefts to justice. Maryland StateStat officials have added PawnStat to their monthly reviews of the Maryland State Police and the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to ensure the new program is working to effectively combat crime in Maryland.
Information about the new law requiring a pawnbroker or secondhand precious metal dealer to submit a copy of each transaction record electronically can be found in the Maryland Code under Business Regulations, Article 12-304. The law was prompted by legislation introduced by Senators Joan Carter Conway, Lisa Gladden, Verna Jones, Nathaniel McFadden, Catherine Pugh, and Roy Dyson, as well as Delegate Dereck Davis, during the 2009 General Assembly Session. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Martin OMalley.
Information about the law requiring automotive dismantlers, recyclers, and scrap processors to complete records of all acquired vehicles can be found under the Maryland Transportation Article, Section 15-511. This law, which took effect in 2008, requires the business to electronically provide these records to the Maryland State Police within 30 days of vehicle title acquisition.
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