(Pikesville, MD) – Maryland State Police property crime investigators launch a new strategy to patrol the online marketplace for stolen property.
Since the inception of RAPID, the Regional Automated Property Information Database, in 2009, law enforcement agencies statewide have recovered over $18 million dollars in stolen property. Using the innovative tool, equipped with over 11 million searchable records, police are now able to strategically search eBay, an online marketplace, in an effort to return more stolen property to the victims of property crime. Property includes jewelry, camera equipment, expensive electronic items, tools, lawn equipment, scrap and precious metals.
Maryland was the first state in the nation to create a central database for the transaction of this kind of data, which has proved successful in solving property crimes and a variety of other crimes. Although the RAPID database is managed by the Maryland State Police, it is the collaborative effort among all law enforcement agencies in the state which has resulted in more stolen property recovered, more arrests and more closed cases. The Maryland State Police RAPID team continually provides advanced training to allied law enforcement agencies.
“RAPID has proved to be an invaluable resource as police seek to dismantle criminal operations and recover stolen property”, says Colonel Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police. “Criminal investigators continue to strategically use the database as a cross jurisdictional crime fighting tool to make arrests in all types of cases, not only property crimes.”
In April 2013, the use of RAPID assisted police in locating a prime suspect in several bomb threats in Maryland. The suspect was later apprehended and charged on fifteen counts of threats to government buildings.
In May 2013, Maryland State Police took a report of a burglary involving theft of twenty firearms. A check of RAPID indicated the guns had been sold to a local shop which resulted in criminal arrests and the recovery of all the stolen firearms.
In July 2013, RAPID was checked in reference to a homicide investigation. The information provided resulted in the apprehension of the murder suspect in Prince Georges County. Later the same month, police investigated a rash of heating, ventilation and air conditioning thefts from local businesses. While searching RAPID, two suspect names and their vehicles were discovered. The investigation resulted in the closure of 18 cases and the recovery of stolen tags.
Also in July, police received a hit on a stolen vehicle connected to an auto dismantler. The suspect was convicted for auto theft and sentenced to eight years in prison.
In September, the Maryland State Police RAPID Team assisted in a jewelry store armed robbery. Using the database, sellers of the stolen merchandise were located, resulting in three arrests in three different armed robberies in Virginia and in Baltimore.
“RAPID is one of the most effective tools to fight crime,” said First Sergeant Brian Gill, RAPID Project Manager. “As we continue to collaborate with our allied law enforcement agencies, the goal is to expand and strengthen the database to improve its efficiency.”
On October 1, 2009, a new law took effect requiring second hand precious metal dealers and pawnbrokers to electronically report their transactions to the primary law enforcement agency in the county of his/her operation. RAPID became the state’s central repository for transaction data of all pawn, secondhand, precious metal, automotive dismantler transition records, and scrap metal dealers statewide. Due to the immediate access investigators gained to information about property sold to brokers, dealers and salvage yards, stolen property has been returned to victims in several states including West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, California, and Florida.
Although law enforcement professionals endorse the efficiency of RAPID, police continue to urge citizens to take preventive measures to minimize the chances of ever becoming a victim of a property crime. Property crime is a category of crime that includes burglary, larceny, theft, vandalism and motor vehicle theft.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, property crime makes up slightly more than three-quarters of all crime in the United States. Homes, garages, cars and businesses are all susceptible to the attention of property crime thieves. Most of these crimes occur during the victim’s absence which makes prevention a critical component in planning for the security and the recovery of stolen property.
So what can you do to recover your property if it is stolen? According to the Maryland State Police RAPID Administrator, “The best thing you can do to assist police in the quickest recovery of your stolen property is to have a record of model numbers, serial numbers, photographs or a video of all of your valuables,” said Maureen Walter, a veteran Maryland State Police property crimes investigator. “Be sure to keep this information in a safe place and not saved on your computer, in the event your computer is stolen too.”