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Online Technology Helps Police Nab Home Invasion Suspect

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PONTIAC (WWJ) - An 18-year-old Rochester Hills man was arrested and charged with home invasion after police utilized a new online system that helps law enforcement to identify and recover stolen property.

Peter DiFranco was arraigned earlier this month via video from the Oakland County Jail for a home invasion that occurred in the 1800 block of Ludgate Lane in Rochester Hills. He was ordered held on a $15,000 bond and remains in custody at this time.

Investigators say they first came into contact with DiFranco when Troy Police pulled over a vehicle in which he was a passenger. Police noticed a large amount of jewelry inside the vehicle and became suspicious.

Acting on intuition, Troy Police contacted Oakland County Sheriff’s Detective Howard Weir, who was investigating a series of home invasions in Rochester Hills, and gave him DiFranco’s name. Weir then contacted the Auburn Hills Police Department to run DiFranco through LeadsOnline — an online investigation system that compiles transaction information from thousands of businesses, such as pawn shops, pharmacies and car dealers.

Through the LeadsOnline system, investigators determined DiFranco had pawned several jewelry items at the Check N Gold on Rochester Road. A few days later, Waterford Township Police contacted Det. Weir to advise him they had identified a guitar at one of their local pawn shops as having been stolen out of Rochester Hills. Further investigation revealed that DiFranco had pawned the guitar, according to police.

With the combined evidence discovered through their own investigation and LeadsOnline, police had enough evidence to get an arrest warrant for DiFranco and bring him into custody.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said the LeadsOnline service is a new offering to local law enforcement that’s coordinated by the county’s Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System (CLEMIS).

“Oakland County has a national reputation for using technology to improve services to residents, including law enforcement,” Patterson said in a statement. “CLEMIS and LeadsOnline together will be a very powerful tool for our investigators.”

Patterson said the LeadsOnline service isn’t just for businesses and law enforcement, either.

Local residents can catalogue information about their valuables by setting up a free online account at reportit.leadsonline.com. If there is a break-in, residents can print the information and give it to police. Having identifiable information about valuables readily available will help police track property if it is stolen or goes missing, investigators say.

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