property marking

Crime Prevention Advice

Effective Property Marking

Why don�t we mark our property?

Is it because often we�re covered by insurance and don�t want the old model back if we get a new one? Probably. Unless an item has sentimental or practical value and can�t be
replaced, we�re unlikely to want stolen property returned, especially if its months after the burglary and we�ve forgotten all about it. It might also be a bit of the �I�ll do
it next week�� syndrome that we�ve never got round to actually marking our things and now its too late�

Either way, we�re making it easy for the criminal to carry on thieving.

Why we should mark our property

If the police find someone in possession of your stolen property, do you want them convicted? The answer is probably yes � but how can the police prove it�s stolen if it�s not
marked or recorded anywhere?

Even if you think your property isn�t valuable enough to mark, you should mark it so that if it is stolen, it makes it more difficult for the criminal to dispose of and
far more likely that they will be convicted if caught in possession.

Make life difficult for the thief

Permanent and highly visible marking either by engraving, scribing, ink systems � or any method that enters the surface of the property has the following benefits:

  • Permanently and visibly marked property is obviously identifiable and consequently there is some deterrent to stealing it. (Burglars have been known to leave property
    at the scene of a burglary due to good marking.)

  • Permanent and visibly marked property is good evidence as it is difficult to explain away and is easily traceable. There is considerable evidence that burglars and receivers
    dislike well marked property because anyone found in possession of it is likely to be convicted of an offence, which is widely known.

  • The resale value of well-marked property is considerably less as few want to own or possess it. How many people would buy equipment with someone else�s postcode marked into
    the surface? Even if the marking is gouged out the item is defaced, �looks stolen�, and its value is reduced even further. Thieves want to dispose of stolen property quickly,
    easily and profitably. If you were a thief would you steal marked goods, knowing that it�s going to be difficult or impossible to sell and that if found with it you�ll be convicted?

  • Even if the worst happens and the property is stolen �the payoff� is likely to be so reduced that being burgled again is highly unlikely. (Known as repeat victimisation.)

  • The best known and most common form of marking is by Ultra Violet (UV) pens. This is quick and simple to do but is not visible to the naked eye and can only be of assistance
    when used in conjunction with more effective methods as described earlier. Where UV is the sole method of marking used, it will only be useful if the property is recovered
    and checked with an ultra violet lamp. These limitations mean Ultra violet should be used as the sole method of marking only where visible and permanent marking is not possible
    or is inappropriate. (Perhaps because the property would be damaged or its appearance made unacceptable.)

  • Owners should also record the serial numbers of their property. This is another way for the Police to prove recovered property is stolen and therefore make a conviction of
    anyone found in possession of the item much more likely. Remember that when the Police find a thief in possession of property but are unable to prove that the property is stolen
    they are often legally obliged to return it to the thief.

Last update: 08/09/03

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