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Miami Changing Policy on Pawn Shops

December 27, 1997

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Mindful that they missed a chance to grab suspected spree killer Andrew Cunanan a week before Gianni Versace was gunned down, police have computerized the city’s pawn shop records.

The push for modernization came after a slip bearing Cunanan’s real name and hotel room number was found on a detective’s desk following the July 15 shooting death of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace outside his home, apparently by Cunanan.

As of this month, a detective has been visiting each pawn shop in the city weekly and transferring their transactions onto a diskette. The data then are loaded into a police computer.

Cunanan had sold a $50 gold piece at a pawn shop where he signed his real name and left his hotel address and thumbprint, as required by law.

Authorities had been hunting for Cunanan in South Florida since mid-May, when the FBI received word he may have been in the area. He was being sought then in the slayings of four men _ two in Minnesota, one in Illinois and another in New Jersey.

In the past, police had routinely collected pawn slips to check them against stolen property reports, but it was a tedious practice performed by only two detectives.

Cunanan’s pawn slip was in police hands five days before Versace was gunned down. The officer in charge of the slips was unaware that Cunanan was being sought, even though he had set aside the slip for further investigation.

``If I had known people were looking for Cunanan, all I would have had to do is punch in his name and, boom, I would have known where he was staying,″ Detective Lorenzo Han said.

Cunanan fatally shot himself July 23 in a houseboat a few miles from Versace’s home.

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