Every year the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office investigates hundreds of Burglaries and Thefts. Only a small percentage of the stolen property is recovered and returned to the owner. One of the main reasons property isn’t returned is the lack of documentation. Property is recovered, but there is no way to match it with the owner. The unclaimed property goes into evidence, and eventually to auction.
When an item is stolen the information goes into a police report. Generally the more specific details about the item, the more likely it will be recovered and returned to the rightful owner. If there is enough information distinguishing information the item it goes into the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) database. The key descriptions needed to enter stolen property into NCIC are: make, model, and serial number. Serial number is the most unique item. A serial number alone is enough to enter an item and match up the item to its owner.
For example, five black similar looking Iphones are reported stolen. The Iphones have no distinguishing factors. Deputies recover one Iphone. None of the five reports have a serial number listed. Deputies can’t determine which of the five owners the phone should be returned to. The phone goes into evidence and ultimately to an auction. In addition to serial numbers, owner applied markings are helpful. Engraving initials into an item makes it easy to identify. The stolen property report has a section labeled, “owner applied number.” Tools are a good example of owner applied markings. Typically contractors will etch in the metal some distinguishing marking.
The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office works with leadsonline to help locate stolen property and identify suspects. Leadsonline offers a free service to citizens called Reportit. https://reportit.leadsonline.com/ . Reportit allows citizens to create a free online database of personal property. The system is very user friendly. If you can type and click a mouse, you can create an online property inventory. You can even upload receipts and photos of your personal property. In the unfortunate event you become a victim of a Burglary or theft, Reportit allows the user to create a police property report online. You can create a list of stolen items. The list will be cross referenced against a national pawn shop registry looking for your stolen items.
Creating an online personal property inventory will greatly improve the chances of getting your items back.