Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fighting Crime Through Property Serial Numbers But For Government Folly

The vast void of common sense in government policy can’t be over-estimated. Imagine you are operating a gun store, pawn shop or car dealership and you have no ability to learn if the items you are buying to sell at retail are stolen. Why’s that you ask?

Because the vast list of serial numbers of stolen items is secret! The government’s National Crime Information Center or NCIC has deemed this vital information as protected criminal data. Only the police who are investigating a suspected crime can access the information.

Some officials will decry this idea because thieves will be able to access the data and find out the property they have is in fact stolen. Okay, I guess crooks are too dumb to realize they have stolen the property in the first place.

Assuming the serial number data could be misused what could cause greater harm? I say having thousands of people buying merchandise checking the list would empower the government to make arrests and recover property at a much faster rate. Perhaps they may be able to jail some really predatory criminals with stolen guns.

If all Americans could access the data, crimes might actually be solved and the stolen property returned to its rightful owners. I guess that’s just too easy.

Ask your local, state and federal politicians about this policy and see if they are smarter than they appear. Maybe they will surprise us? Not!


Dave Hardy said...

Worse, I think the data is badly messed up. All it takes is one mis-typed number.

I represented a gun dealer who had ATF seize his inventory, about 300 guns. The seizure was totally invalid, and they gave them back. But said they couldn't give back six, because NCIC showed they were stolen. We asked for the paperwork, and of the six--

Four were reported stolen, at the far end of the country, on dates months after ATF had confiscated the dealer's guns and put them in its evidence locker. Obviously not his guns.

One was indeed his gun -- a Title II full auto, duly registered to him 20 years ago (with the reported theft being recent). His, but obviously not stolen.

The last one -- the make and model matched, but the NCIC theft report was one digit off. It had been reported stolen locally about 30 years before, owner was long dead and unavailable to tell us if it was his gun. It wasn't worth much, so we let them keep it.

So--of the six guns, five were clearly not stolen at all, and all six had errors in the serial number listed! If this is any sample, the NCIC records are junk.

Crimefile said...

Dave your concern is quite valid since some of the challenged government employees recording firearm’s model numbers as serial numbers and such.

Your client would have been better off had there been a stolen hit on the number and police were called to investigate each hit.

The presumption would have been favorable to your client and his inventory would not have been seized.

We can only hope the police could have unraveled the mess quickly. I have seen the mistake you have highlighted too often.

Anonymous said...

Most of us Real working officers know the the computer does not tell all.

How many times have identifiers been incorrect,tats,scars,DOB,even the sex of the person has been entered incorrectly.

Anonymous said...

The NCIC had me confused with a convicted Drug Dealer who lived in New Orleans. I actually had to prove that I WASN'T this person.

What a cluster fuck that was.