The Florida Law Enforcement Property Recovery Unit, more colloquially known as FLEPRU (FLEE-proo), is a non-profit entity that was started in the Tampa Bay area in 1987 by a group of detectives whose mission was to aid victims in the recovery of their stolen property and increase the effective prosecution of the perpetrators.
FLEPRU provides information, networking, and education not only for sworn law enforcement, but retail, commercial, and recycling industries as well. Additionally, FLEPRU works to enact legislation, and better the statutes already on the books, by lobbying in Tallahassee on behalf of crime victims and cops.
Toward that end, FLEPRU has directed much of its lobbying efforts at tightening Florida State Statutes 538 (Secondhand dealers and secondary metals recyclers) and 539 (Pawnbrokering). The experienced people at FLEPRU have been staunch gatekeepers, attempting to keep the pawn and secondhand dealers from becoming “state-sponsored fencing operations.”
Each year, FLEPRU holds a three day conference in Orlando which becomes and information clearing house and a training seminar for property crimes detectives from all over the state. Having recently settled back into our detective division, I attended this year’s conference along with two rookie detectives from my agency.
Topics for the 2013 FLEPRU convention included:
- Identity Theft Investigation
- Pawn Shop Inspection
- SunPass Operations
- Officer Survival and Interviewing
- EBT Card Fraud
- Smart Phones and Computer Forensics
- Scrap Metal Investigations
- Jewelry Identification
- Facial Recognition Systems
- Florida Lottery Fraud
- Organized Retail Crime Investigations
- ATM Thefts/Skimmers
- U.S. Marshal’s Office Assistance
- Intelligence Round-Table
There was also a lunch seminar with the owner and personnel of Business Watch International, where troubleshooting and new technology implementation concerning the RAPID pawn/secondhand database were discussed.
For 2013, over 200 detectives from all over the State of Florida gathered at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando. Also present were investigators from large retailers such as Publix, Target, Home Depot, Toys R Us, CVS, Walgreens, Sterling Jewelers, and others.
I have attended FLEPRU conferences and trainings in the past. This year’s meeting was perfect for my two new guys. They gathered a truckload of information in a short amount of time. For the veteran detectives, the some of the cutting edge topics brought us up to date on current criminal trends.
The day after returning from the conference, I got a call from a road supervisor that they had a card skimmer on a gas pump–an internal skimmer wired directly inside the machine! We hadn’t seen one of those yet. My two fresh FLEPRU members excitedly ran out the door to try to download the device and get touch-DNA from it.
I have maintained many good statewide contacts as a result of FLEPRU. If you are a detective working property crimes, this is an organization in which you should be interested. The links at the top will send you to FLEPRU’s website.