Mark your valuables: It helps you prevent home burglaries and recover your stuff

Being caught in the act is a thief's greatest risk, the second being caught "red-handed" with the the property they have stolen.

With modern mass-produced appliances, electronics and products looking identical, the police have no way of identifying recovered property as stolen goods unless the serial number is available or the item has been marked with a property owner's unique number.

Every year, law enforcement agencies across the country auction millions of dollars worth of recovered lost or stolen property because of lack of identification. If an item has been marked, however, the information can be entered into state and national law enforcement computer networks to trace these goods in any matter of seconds and the owner can be identified.

This knowledge alone may act as a major deterrent to a potential thief since items that can be traced back to their original owner's bring a lower price on the street.

Here are a few tips to help protect your property and assist law enforcement in the recovery if items are stolen.

  • We recommended that you mark your property with a number that is easily obtained by the property owner, be permanently traceable back to the property owner and should be acceptable for entry into the FBI's National Crime Information Center computer system for stolen property. We recommend the use of the Florida driver's license number of the property owner with the two letter abbreviation for the state listed either before or after this number.
  • All items that might be attractive to a thief should be marked.
  • The property should be marked in a prominent place where the marking will be both readily visible and difficult to cover or remove without the attempt being obvious.
  • Electronic equipment such as flat screen televisions, gaming systems, computers, and cellular phones can be prominently marked on the back of the chassis or case and even under the battery cover.
  • Engines and body parts of power driven equipment such as generators, mowers and trimmers are sometimes exchanged to reduce the risk of identification. Mark both the engine and frame.
  • Clothing and furs can be marked with invisible or indelible ink, or the number can be embroidered on the material.
  • An additional marking should be made in an inconspicuous area on the property.
  • Property that cannot be engraved, such as antiques, jewelry, coins, silver, china, etc. should be photographed and logged on an inventory sheet in detail.

Will Operation Identification really deter a thief?

Some people have questioned the effectiveness of marking valuable property. Others believe that if a thief knows the property in a home is clearly marked the thief is unlikely to select that home as a target. Further, it is believed that marked property has a reduced resale value to the "fence" making that property less attractive, which is another very valuable benefit of the marking and recording of property descriptions and serial numbers other than for insurance purposes.

This information is very vital in order to enter the stolen item into the NCIC computer system and to aid identification in case of recovery. Finally another beneficial advantage of marking your property is that it sensitizes you to participate in other good security practices and measures. The individual who participates in this program will usually be the same person who practices other good crime prevention habits such as being careful with keys, locking doors and windows, securing property, etc.

Send questions about crime prevention or the Plantation Police Department to Officer Bob Wilkins at bw9630@yahoo.com

Print this article Back to Top

Comments