Police Add Database For Tracking Stolen Items

Friday, March 21st 2008, 5:09 pm
By: News On 6

The Tulsa Police Department has a new tool that helps track stolen property.  It's a database called SIRAS.  It was created in the 90's by Nintendo as a way to cut down on shoplifting.  News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports it was so successful, other products and then stores were added and now, police officers are allowed to use it for free.

Tulsa detectives just started using it and it's already helped solve one case.

Say someone uses a stolen credit card to buy a DVD player from a place like Target.  When scanned at checkout, that DVD's serial number and UPC are automatically entered into the SIRAS database.  Say that criminal wants to return the DVD player for cash, which is a popular scam.  Now, the crook is caught.

"The person could walk away with the merchandise they got with your stolen credit card, but if they come back the next day or next week to return it for cash, it's already in SIRAS database and it'll get flagged and we'll get called and they'll probably go to jail," said Tulsa Police Detective Jim McClaughry.

Many retailers and manufacturers now belong to SIRAS, which allows products to be tracked.  Each time an item is scanned, SIRAS knows exactly where and when it happened.

Say a criminal shoplifts something then immediately tries to pawn it.  The pawn shop can check SIRAS and see the item is supposed to still be in the store.  The shop calls police and police notify the store the item is gone, probably before the store even knew it was missing.

All these crimes and scams cost businesses billions and that cost is passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

"This is another tool we're building that can help us stop some of the crime and help the citizens of Tulsa get their property back and drive some of these costs down," said Tulsa Police Detective Jim McClaughry.

After getting their home or car broken into and items stolen, victims want to know if they will ever get their stuff back.

In the past, the chances were slim, but SIRAS is upping the odds.

Again, SIRAS is an industry database, but police are allowed to access it for free.

Police say serial numbers and UPC codes are like fingerprints for products and believe this database is going to revolutionize how officers track and recover stolen goods.

Find more stories on NewsOn6.com's Local News page.