Sheriff adds computer to fight crime
It’s been a long time coming, but the Cedar County Sheriff’s office is coming into the 21st century — technology-wise.
A lack of interest and a lack of funds have kept previous sheriff administrations from taking the step into computerization, but Sheriff Leon Dwerlkotte is a proponent of technology and taking the first steps to bring his office into today’s techno-world.
Shortly after taking office in January, Dwerlkotte obtained a trial version of Leads Online, a web-based software designed to assist law enforcement solve crimes from burglary to identity theft, to homicides and narcotics.
Use of the trial version of the software was instrumental in cracking three cases in these first six months, including two burglaries and the recent air conditioning thefts in El Dorado Springs.
The software will cost the sheriff’s office an annual subscription rate of $2,128, and the full-featured version now is in use. Dwerlkotte said the value of the property recovered for the homeowners in the aforementioned cases has more than paid for the software, even though the Sheriff’s office does not receive any of the funds from the recovery.
The program connects pawn shops, salvage yards, gold buyers, pharmacies and scrap metal dealers and law enforcement agencies to a database for instant search capabilities of stolen items. Dwerlkotte said when items are pawned, the pawn shop is required to obtain information from the customer including address and phone, along with a serial number or description of the item. More than 25,000 businesses are reporting this information electronically, according to Leads-Online promotional information.
When law enforcement enters serial numbers and identification of stolen property into the software, it searches to find if there is a match of the property on file.
In the paper world of the Cedar County sheriff’s office, matching stolen items to cases has been extremely difficult and time consuming for the deputies, with very low success rates.
One of the features of the new software Dwerlkotte thinks will be of great value, is the program allows citizens to go online to register their personal property free of charge with photos and identifying numbers into a secure environment. Having the property catalogued helps the owner when filing police and insurance reports because the information is at hand.
The Leads-Online website says it is secured by the same types of connections used by banks with high-level security measures used by financial institutions and government agencies. Your information can only be accessed using your username and password. It is provided to residents in the jurisdictions Leads-Online serves, and each account can store up to 100 items. If the resident of the county does have a theft of any of the items recorded, they can access their information, and use the police report button to print off a list of the stolen items, which can be submitted to law enforcement to be filed with their theft report.
Dwerlkotte believes the software will go a long way to link the community and law enforcement for quick recovery of stolen property.
“This piece of software is going to be very beneficial to law enforcement in general and to the community,” Dwerlkotte said.
The sheriff encourages citizens to check out Leads-Online’s citizen property inventory system at reportit.leadsonline.com and consider registering their property.