The Madison Police Department has recently implemented a new technology to help lead officers to suspects. 

The newly acquired technology, called “Leads Online,” eventually led to the arrest of Madisonian Sidney Ivy, after he allegedly stole a watch and money from a downtown apartment Sept. 14, according to a police report.

MPD Lt. David McCaw said Leads Online is a company that collects data from pawn shops and similar establishments, and correlates the data onto a search engine.

Before Leads Online was created, second-hand dealers wrote out information about purchased items on slips of paper, McCaw said, meaning if a police officer wanted to find a stolen item, they would have to look through extensive paperwork. The creation of the database streamlined the process and made MPD’s job more efficient, McCaw said.  

Since all second-hand dealers are required to keep a photo and thumb print of the individuals who sell items to the shop, once the item is tracked down, the police can then identify the person who had possession of the item after it was stolen.
McCaw said that although proposals to modernize police departments can be difficult and time-consuming, Leads Online has proven to be an immediate success.

McCaw said he hopes the new tool will prevent thefts from happening, especially in the downtown area.

“If people can’t sell the stuff they steal from students, will they continue to do it”? McCaw said. “We hope not. We hope Leads Online acts as a deterrent.”

Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, agreed Leads Online is a successful tool, adding in addition to acting as a deterrent, the database simply makes it easier to recover stolen items.

McCaw said students should always lock their doors when they leave their residences, know the serial number to their bike and laptop and refrain from letting strangers into their house. When hosting a house party, he urged students to make sure to lock and hide any items that may get stolen, such as cash or prescription drugs.

McCaw said downtown robberies go through a yearly cycle, with thefts increasing in the fall as a result of the increase in new students. Thefts also spike over Thanksgiving and winter break, both periods of time when students often leave their residences.

MPD attempts to increase patrols when they know students will be away from their apartments, he added.   

Resnick said apartments can become a target of theft if they have broken doors, broken locks, broken windows or poor lighting. He added students can also prevent thefts from happening by being conscious of the settings around them and simply locking their door.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, sponsored the ordinance allowing MPD to utilize Leads Online. He said MPD solved many crimes and returned many stolen items because of Leads Online.

“I’m very proud of the law,” Verveer said.

Verveer said he is currently working on an ordinance that will require scrap metal purchases to be electronically reported. He added there is a growing problem in the city concerning people stealing metal such as copper and aluminum.

The ordinance will be introduced at a City Council meeting later in October.