How To Protect Your Valuables From Theft

One of the most effective tools you can use to retrieve
property stolen from your home is a simple electric engraving
pen. With this pen you can inscribe your name or a number on
the most valuable items in and around your home. Before you
do this, check with local police to see which they prefer you
use - your name, driver's license, social security number
or whatever.

Engraving your name or number on your valuables helps deter
robbery in two ways: First, you discourage the thief since
marked property is much more difficult to sell. Second, if
a thief does steal your property, it is much easier to catch
and prosecute him when he is discovered with goods in his
possession that are easily identifiable as stolen.

Billions of dollars worth of property stolen each year is
never returned to the owners. Why? Because without some
identifying mark or number, the police are unable to
verify stolen property, or trace the owner. More than
half the property recovered by the police is eventually
auctioned off or destroyed because the goods have no
identifying characteristics.

In some cities, local law enforcement agencies will lend
you and your neighbors an engraving pen free. In these
communities, you may borrow an engraving tool for several
days. If this service is not available to you, you can
purchase an inexpensive electric pen from your local
hardware store for as little as $10 to $15. This small
investment could be worth a great deal more to you at a
later date.

Items already marked with a serial number - such as
cars, TV's, cameras, typewriters, radios, stereos,
tape decks, appliances, etc., may not have to be
engraved with your name or personal number. Check
with local police first. If they recommend you
inscribe your identifying mark on serialized items,
inscribe this information just above the manufacturer's
serial number.

On unserialized property, inscribe your name or number
on the upper right corner of the rear or backside of
each item. Should you decide to sell or discard the
item at a later date, you should invalidate your
number by using the engraving pen or any sharp tool
to draw a single line through your name or number
from the upper left to the lower right hand corner.
Do not deface your name or number in any other way.
It is also advisable, when selling "marked" property,
to write out a simple receipt and specifying on it
that you were the previous owner and indicate the
name or number used by you. This could prevent
legal hassles for the new owner at a later time.

To protect smaller valuable items such as jewelry,
silverware, etc., it is wise to take a photo of
each item. A Simple, instant-type camera photo is

After you have marked and/or photographed all your
valuables, make a detailed list of these items and
keep it in a safe place. When new items are acquired,
add them to your list. As other valuables are sold
or discarded, cross them off the list.

If you use credit cards, they should also be recorded
on your list. Either copy your account number from
each card and expiration date, or you can have
photo copies made for your records.