What is Operation Identification?
Operation Identification is a theft prevention program that involves marking property with an identifying number to alert thieves that all valuables in the home are marked for identification purposes. Operation Identification is an excellent community project which promotes neighborhood cooperation and citizen awareness of crime prevention strategies.
Why is it important for me to participate in OP ID?
When an item is recovered by the police department every effort is made to locate the owner. In many situations this is attempted primarily by checking the item for identifying marks and checking the serial number in the computer to determine if the item has been reported stolen. When an owner reports an item stolen to the police and he does not have the serial number(s), the item will not be traceable via the serial number to the owner. However, if an owner has the serial number of the stolen item and this number is checked in the computer by law enforcement officers, this item will show up as a stolen item with owner information. This will allow us to return items to their rightful owners and aid in the prosecution of defendants.
How can I participate?
Four (4) Police Precincts and Ten (10) local libraries in Davidson Co. will allow you to check out an engraver, free of charge, for the purpose of identifying and marking your personal property. This would be a great opportunity for organized neighborhood watches and other groups to share the engraver with its members. Practice using the tool and then engrave property with your Driver's License number followed by the appropriate State abbreviation. XXXXXXXX TN (Where the X's are your driver's license Number)
(Example--TN. for Tennessee) Another way is to use your last name and then your postal zip code (ChongXXXXX-XXXX). You can add your zip code (or the nine digit extended zip code) so you won't be giving out any private information. (This tip comes from Lieutenant Charles Chong with the Honolulu Police Department). Some valuables such as jewelry, antiques, furs, and silverware cannot be engraved without reducing their value and should be photographed or videotaped. Don't wait until you become a victim to protect yourself. Engraving your property should be in addition to keeping a record of serial numbers and model numbers.
Engraving pens are available for checkout (like library books) at the following locations:
Police Precinct Stations
- South Police Precinct - 5101 Harding Place
- East Police Precinct - 936 E. Trinity Lane
- West Police Precinct - 6730 Charlotte Pike
- Central Police Precinct - 310 1st Avenue South
Which items should I Mark?
Anything of value that a thief could carry away except guns or items that will be reduced in value -- write down serial numbers on those items. Many items like jewelry will have an inscription like, "To Martha With all My Love" - that is listed as a OAN (Owner Applied Number) and is just as good as a serial number in many instances. Make sure that is listed on any report taken.
- Bicycles, Radios, Cameras, Televisions, Binoculars, VCR, Watches, Stereos
- Hand and Power Tools, Computers, Gardening Tools, Typewriters
- Kitchen Appliances, Musical Instruments, Sports Equipment
In addition to engraving your property, it is extremely important for you to keep a written inventory. This should include Model numbers, Serial numbers, and a complete description of the item.
Write down the serial numbers of any and every firearm you own. You can get it back if it's stolen if you record the serial numbers, model and brand name. Smith & Wesson Model 3903 - 9mm serial number 15R45678 for example. Everything electronic - VCRs, Computers, Monitors, Cameras, Radios and the like. Engrave numbers on power tools as they may have non-unique numbers. Take the manuals and registration cards when you buy something and put everyone in the same box or bag in one closet - in one place. When items are stolen - make SURE the officer or Teleserve operator gets the serial numbers. You can get your property back if recovered if you have this proof. Police will arrest persons trying to sell your valuables and you will get them returned.
Identify Your Property
One of the best ways that you can assist the police in recovering your stolen property is by keeping records. Record this information on a property record sheet which is provided. Be sure and use additional sheets if necessary.
What if your property is Stolen?
Contact the Police Department at 615-862-8600. Be prepared to provide the police with the serial and model numbers along with descriptions of your property. Every year police recover hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stolen goods. Often the owners have no proof that the property is theirs. A record of your property will solve this problem.
Print out the Record of Valuable Property form, fill it in and store it in a safe place. You will have a good chance to find your recovered property if your property is ever stolen.