Property Marking for Crime Prevention & Detection

by Digby Farquart - Date: 2007-01-06 - Word Count: 770 Share This!

In simple terms, if you want your stolen property returned to, mark it.

There are a variety of methods in which you may mark property for crime prevention and detection. Visible property marking may offer a crime prevention element and act as a deterrent where the criminal sees the mark and chooses not to steal the property.

Engraving & chemical etching are popular property marking methods. They do cause disfigurement to the item and clearly effects any resell value. Simple visual clues are post codes/zip codes; others might be a registration or serial number that can verify ownership of property via a database.

A range of labels in the form of stickers and plates, affixed by glue or chemically bond to the item contains the important information to identify the owner or the database where the owners' details are recorded.
Such labelling may be tamper-proof labels that cannot be removed without extreme damage or visible evidence of identification removal. High technology allows for anti-counterfeiting properties incorporated within the label such as holograms.

Bar Codes.
We see barcodes on almost every product we buy but linear bar code that complies with international recognised standards can divulge security information when read by a bar-code scanner. Ensure the code is secure and a specialist scanner is used to read the bar code

Covert property marking is generally invisible thus a would-be thief would not see the actual mark but deterrent notices would be useful as a crime prevention.

Chemical Property Marking
Unique chemical compounds can be registered to a particular owner and invisibly marked onto items so that forensic examination may identify the chemical code and thus the rightful owner.

DNA marking for example offers a way of invisibly marking property with DNA until police use their equipment to detect the owners DNA and prove theft. It is simple enough to apply by using a special pen that is first dabbed on a fingertip, and then by touching the property with the same finger, the DNA is transferred. It remains there for some thirty years. For further information see
The use of biological data related to the owner, such as DNA, also includes facial analysis, retina recognition and finger scanning. The are now being introduced in airports and other access control areas.

Micro marking comprises microscopic dots each bearing unique code numbers or specific details of the owner. When applied to an item the micro marking is virtually invisible until inspected and usually requires examination under a microscope.

Tracking devices
These devices are located by reference to receivers such as aerials or satellites and then transmit locational information. This s detected by scanners and cross bearings to fix the position.

Radio frequency identification tags (RF/id)
These tracking devices are used not just in property recovery but also the tracking of animals.

Implanting the a small device that contains an aerial and a microchip containing identification information allows a scanning device that uses radio waves to read the information contained within the tag. These tags may be embedded in natural and synthetic materials such plastics and wood or surface mounted on metals.

Radio frequency read/write tags
These R/F devices are very similar to the above except that certain information may be included in the tag memory, new information added or information deleted over a period of time using a read/write scanner.

PIN code
Like the PIN we use at cash machines, the inclusion of a PIN (Personal Identification Number) within the electrical circuit of an item or a security device attached to it, inhibits the function of the item until the PIN is correctly entered via a keypad and identifies the owner.
Registration databases

There are a number of commercial operations that register property against serial or code numbers, some register stolen property such as art and antiques. Other registers may specialise in specific items such as; caravans, computers, plant equipment. There are also business specific registration databases and specialise in all assets for companies or local authorities. Insurance and credit card companies offer registration and replacement services for valuables such as keys and credit cards.

Photographic databases
Mentioned before were registration databases for art and antiques; with digital technology, facilities are available to store photographs of works of art, antiques or other valuables as hard copy or computer held photographic records. These databases are ideal for items that are not suitable for marking due to the value and potential damage.

Property marking for crime prevention and detection is an important activity. Costs can me as low as £10 to mark 1000 items with your DNA.
The real value of your property should reflect the budget for asset and property marking. Before you pass personal and financial details to a commercial registration database, check them out.

Related Tags: dna mark, dna marking, property marking

Digby Farquartis a UK security consultant and writer for websites such as UK Crime, UK Security Directory and Hertfordshire Crime

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