A Communicator Reprise: May 2011
Take a good look around every room in your home, your ham shack as well as outside in your garage, shed and car. Consider all the things you would be sorry to lose or find hard to replace - then mark them. Particularly as Amateurs, we may have thousands of dollars worth of equipment in our car or home.
Remember that anything remotely useful or attractive is resalable. For instance, all your electrical and mechanical goods, household appliances, furniture, pictures, ornaments, antiques and silver, in fact anything can be a target of thieves. Garages and gardens sheds are also at risk. Protect your lawn mower and keep your tools locked up. They may well be used by an intruder to force his way into your home! Finally, always lock your car no matter where it is parked and remove any valuables from sight.
Marking is easy
Property Marking is a quick, easy Do-It-Yourself job, and it costs so little. For an outlay of only a few dollars and an hour or so of your time you could be saving yourself a great deal of money, inconvenience and personal anguish.
Engraving and punching identifies your property for good. Inexpensive tools and kits for the job can be bought from DIY and hardware stores. Improvising by scratching to save yourself the outlay is acceptable but might need a little extra care.
For antiques or other valuable property which might be devalued or spoiled by visible marking, there's an invisible ultra-violet marker. Burglars cannot see it, but if something marked is stolen police can identify it with a special ultra-violet lamp. UV markers are available from most good DIY stores and stationers at around five dollars. It's important to remember that UV marking fades and will need to be renewed every so often.
There are three ways of marking
- Engraving with an electric engraving tool, fine drill or other sharp-pointed tool. Use a template or stencil or simply do it freehand.
- UV marking the invisible method using an ultra-violet pen. Simple to use - but needs renewing periodically.
- Punching With a hammer and a set of punches bearing marking information. Use only on heavier metal, items such as bicycles, mowers or engines.
Note that aluminum is easily damaged by punching and should not be marked in this way.
What to engrave
At one time it was suggested that you mark your property with your SIN number. This is no longer the case. Police cannot readily trace SIN numbers, complicating the return of your property. Drivers License (DL) numbers however, can be tracked from any mobile police terminal in seconds! In most cases, police who find property in the hands of suspicious characters will attempt to verify it immediately via the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) [NCIC in the United States]. Stolen property from across Canada is entered on this system and it can be accessed in seconds. Engraving the DL Province of issue before the number will assist police, for example: BC DL 1234567
In the case of a business or organization, police agencies in some jurisdictions will issue an ‘Operation Provident’ number. This Program is meant to provide an easily traced number to identify ownership where it is not the property of a single individual.
Where to mark your property
Where you mark your property matters, particularly if you are using the engraving method. If you prefer the mark to remain out of sight, you'll obviously choose somewhere behind or underneath the article.
If you purchase a used item that has been marked, engrave a single line through the previous marking and place your DL number above or below it. The really important thing to remember is to select a surface that can't be removed without spoiling the basic appearance or performance of the article.
Keep a record of your property
You can protect items that can’t be marked, and those that can, by keeping a record of them. A simple and effective way of doing this is to photograph each item, preferably in colour, paying special attention to any distinguishing marks such as initials or crests which may be used to identify the item. Take the photograph against a plain background and include a ruler to give an idea of size.
Use the record form to keep a list of the items you have marked and where the marks are. It’s a good idea to give a second copy of the list and the photographs to someone you trust for them to look after. If you have property stolen, be prepared to provide copies of serial numbers and photos to police.
Do not advertise your absence
We all chat on the various repeaters but we do not always know who is listening in. There is no expectation of privacy and the AR bands are open to monitoring by many people including unscrupulous ones with scanners. Mention of your intended absence on holidays may be advertising for those with criminal intentions to pay you a visit. As you know, the licensing database is readily available to anyone with an Internet connection and it takes only minutes to look up your call-sign for your address unless you have asked for it to be withheld.
For more advice on marking or protecting your property, contact your local police station.