Monday, June 30, 2003

Web search for stolen goods

Police are trying to trace the owners of stolen goods worth £100,000 by using the internet.
Burglary victims can be reunited with their stolen property through a website used by Sussex Police called Virtual Bumblebee.

The stolen items, which have been recovered in raids, are being kept at a secret location in the county, waiting for their rightful owners to identify them.

And now the force is promoting the website where people can search for their possessions online.

Pc Tom Willis, project officer, said: 'Everyone who has internet access can view stolen, recovered and seized items as well as found property.

'More and more items of property are being added to the site daily and in the last six months we have seen a number of people reunited with property from thefts several years earlier.'

Detective Sergeant Stuart Hale said: 'Some criminals travel to commit crime so victims may also come from all over Sussex, as well as neighbouring Hampshire, Surrey and Kent.

'We even traced one owner to the United States.'

Virtual Bumblebee was piloted in Bognor but has now been extended to the whole of West Sussex.
Victims can type in a description of the item they are looking for and then see if any of the seized goods match.

Already nearly 30 people have come forward to claim their property but about half of the hoard has still not been identified.

At the moment there are 275 items on Virtual Bumblebee waiting to be claimed, all of which have photographs. "