Credit where credit is due

While economic factors are at play, law enforcement is also working smarter, trying new approaches and following crime data closely.

Maryland started using RAPID (Regional Automated Property Information Database) as its statewide central repository for second-hand transactions in October 2009, when a state law went into effect for pawn and precious metal. RAPID is a system from Business Watch International (BWI), a company dedicated to providing computer applications to serve property owners, pawn and secondhand stores, and police agencies. RAPID is an updated version of the RPDSS (Regional Pawn Data Sharing System), which was developed using COPS technology grant funds, rolled out in 2004 to serve the Washington metropolitan area and became a 2006 IACP “Excellence in Technology Award” winner.

In July 2011, Anne Arundel County’s Sheriff’s Office got a RAPID hit on a stolen gun out of Norfolk, Va. The seller, who had used an Oklahoma address, was charged with theft of money from the Maryland pawn shop as well as being charged in the Virginia theft.

Mandated electronic reporting by dealers, which also include automotive dismantlers and scrap metal dealers, feeds the RAPID database, explains Maryland State Police (MSP) Lt. Dalaine Brady, assistant commander in the Planning and Research Division. To help ensure that the state is getting the data it needs and that the data is accurate, MSP visits every dealer and conducts annual training. Brady encourages dealers when they suspect something is wrong to type a comment in RAPID.

To track stolen property from retail outlets, MSP plans to use SIRAS P.I. (Product Information). Law enforcement using the RAPID system have a SIRAS module built in, however RAPID is not needed to use the property crime-fighting tool that’s free to law enforcement. The SIRAS P.I. national database has more than 3,800 subscribing law enforcement agencies and gives law enforcement officers real-time access to a company’s product database by serial number to help determine where and when products had been purchased, and if they may indeed have been stolen—either from an individual, from a retailer or during transit. Law enforcement officials and retailers additionally have the ability to report stolen items to the database.

Stop stolen goods buyers

As prices go up, Rosenfeld predicts stolen goods, which are cheap goods, should be in greater demand. He describes consumers who are willing to purchase something they think might have been stolen as people who think they’ve just gotten a good deal on a TV. Rarely are they serious criminals, he says.

“I don’t think it would require much for a lot of those folks to be dissuaded from purchasing stolen goods,” he says. Rosenfeld advises law enforcement to make it known in the community that officers are going to start to charge people with receiving stolen property, including stolen goods purchased via the Internet.

Backing up that claim, law enforcement can reduce the demand for stolen goods as well as the incentive to steal.


Rebecca Kanable is a freelance writer specializing in law enforcement topics. She can be reached at
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