An online listing of bikes, iPads, computers and other items sold to Minnesota and Wisconsin pawnshops has proved to be a treasure trove of tips for police trying to catch thieves and recover stolen property, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Last year, 260 police agencies using the Automated Property System (APS) recovered an estimated $1.2 million worth of goods, says John Elder of the Minneapolis Police Department, which developed and runs the 16-year-old system.
APS “has become a very important tool for solving all kinds of crime,” Elder said. In the mid-1990s, the pawn industry opposed state legislation to regulate pawnshops, but once it passed, Pawn America, the area's biggest pawn broker, worked with Minneapolis to develop an effective pawn tracking system. APS is “one of the most valuable tools we have in the fight against theft and related crime,” said Fridley Police Chief Don Abbott. His city had 47,664 pawn transactions last year, when APS reporting helped it recover $38,770 in stolen property.