Pawn shop plays big role in catching break-in suspects


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Police are crediting a local pawn shop with helping catch the suspects they say are responsible for several house break-ins spanning from Jamestown to Burrillville.

Empire Loan owner Jeff Keithline said two men agreed to have their photos taken as they sold jewelry at his store on Broad Street in Providence.

“We do take a photograph of every person,” Keithline said. “Every transaction, every piece of jewelry.”

Those two men – Thomas Pleau, 43, and John Young, 26 – were later arrested and charged with several house break-ins in Jamestown. The two also recently faced new charges in a series of break-ins in Burrillville.

Police said detectives were able to recover some of the jewelry at Empire Loan and arrested the two suspects partly because of the detailed records pawn shops are required to keep.

“We record all of that information,” Keithline said. “We send a report by download to the Attorney General’s precious metals division. They have a database searchable by law enforcement by item, by date and by name.”

According to the Attorney General’s office, the database, since the start of the year, has more than 2 million items in it. The database is accessed by 418 police officers and agencies.

Burrillville Police Detective Lieutenant Guy Riendeau said by searching the database, some victims were able to find their stolen jewelry.

“Not all the jewelry was recovered,” Riendeau said. “The ones that they sold on that day, we got.”

According to Riendeau, the stolen jewelry will be held as evidence until the court proceedings conclude.

Empire Loan bought the items that were allegedly stolen during the home break-ins. Keithline said situations like this don’t happen very often, so they don’t lose enough money for it to be considered a hit to the business.

Both Pleau and Young are currently being held without bail as probation violators.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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