Identification can effectively assist in reducing theft on campus. This is accomplished by conspicuously marking each item of personal property with a unique identifier, preferably your driver's license number. This accomplishes the following:
- Marking property makes stolen goods difficult to sell.
- Marked property contributes to a higher rate of conviction for those apprehended with it in their possession.
- Marked property is easier for law enforcement officials to return to the rightful owner if it is lost or stolen.
This system requires a small amount of time and effort on your part, but the property identification and inventory will protect you and your property. The purpose of the inventory record is to give law enforcement officials essential information if you are victimized. This inventory record should be kept in a safe place for quick reference.
What to Mark and How
For Hard Objects
For hard objects such as computers, bicycles, radios, stereos, TV's, cameras, laptops, I-pods, watches, sporting goods, and appliances use an engraving tool that can be signed out at the Safety & Security Office to mark your identification number on a conspicuous, permanent part of the item. Then engrave the number again in a less obvious place. Metal or plastic parts are best for marking a smooth legible mark.
For Un-markable Items
For unmarkable items such as jewelry, musical instruments, antiques, etc., place the object against a plain background and take several color slides from different angles. Include a ruler in the picture for scale. Label slides and keep them with the inventory record.
For Soft or Porous Objects
For soft or porous objects such as leather, fiberboard, or cloth, use a contrasting magic marker. Note: some fiberboards may be hard enough to take the engraving.
Make Sure All Identifying Marks and Numbers Are Included on the Inventory Record
What Number to Use
Do not use your social security number. It is impossible for law enforcement agencies to trace articles that are marked with this number. The most effective number is your state driver's license number. Law enforcement agencies across the country have access to this number through state motor vehicle records. For all objects, even those with serial numbers, it is best to assign them a particular number. Do this by using your driver's license number and adding an extra number to it.
Any other items that are assigned numbers would get the next number in sequence (DC 124365879-2, DC 12365879-3, etc.) and numbering would continue in this order. The final digit (item number) is required by the FBI, so that if the item is stolen, it will have a unique number for entry into the National Crime Information System. If you do not have a driver's license, you can engrave your name and address on the items.
The engraver will mark steel, plastic, glass, wood, or any hard surface. It requires no special skill. Just use it as you would a pen or pencil. Your own printing or handwriting is best. Do not press down on the engraver; allow the engraver to etch smooth, even lines. The depth of the engraving and the size of the line can be varied by turning the knob on the engraver. Engravers are available from the Campus Safety & Security Office.