I support Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube in his attempt to tighten the laws on pawn brokers and second-hand sellers. Tightening up the laws will be very helpful, but there are things every citizen can do today to make it harder on the criminals and easier for law enforcement to recover stolen property.
I spend Tuesday mornings as a volunteer in the sheriff's office going through burglary reports trying to find stolen property in the two currently used pawn shop databases: FINDER and RAPID.
Sarasota uses the older FINDER system and Manatee uses the more widely used and more precise RAPID. Sarasota County and City and the rest of Florida need to move to RAPID.
The main thing citizens can do is to provide more precise information about their stolen property. Everyone should have a list of the serial numbers of all of their electronics, cameras, and watches. Serial numbers are the prime way to track these.
Never miss a local story.
Bikes have serial numbers, too. I recently found a $500 bike in a pawn shop using its serial number. They are located on the under side of the crank housing.
If possible, etch something into/onto your jewelry. Know the length and size of your strands of pearls and other gems, and the weight, length and style of your necklaces and bracelets. And of course, photograph anything that is collectable or rare. Any unique identifying characteristic is helpful.
Finally, every citizen needs to be on the lookout for criminal behavior. If it doesn't look right, it probably isn't. Call 911 and let law enforcement know ASAP and keep your doors locked.
Eugene R. Lambert