Police turn to technology to reduce thefts

Posted on Jan 18, 2016

Theft is an enduring problem for law enforcement across the country. Whether the items targeted are large assets like vehicles or much smaller jewelry and other valuables, criminals know they can often turn a burglary or robbery into cash by working through the black market and defrauding honest businesses. Law enforcement officers across the country are using technology to better protect the personal property of the citizens in their jurisdiction and stymie the efforts of criminals to steal and then sell those items. Here's a look at two different approaches taken by local law enforcement in New Jersey and South Carolina:

"Much of the process is automatic and the information is available to the involved departments on demand."


NJ police make move from paper records to electronic info
The Hudson Reporter recently shared the story of the Bayonne, New Jersey, police department, which joined a regional informational network already used by some municipal departments in the state to track the sale of jewelry, precious metals and similar small objects of value. The Regional Automated Property Information Database tracks transactions conducted at second-hand stores, pawn shops and precious metal dealers and automatically shares the information with participating law enforcement agencies. Instead of requiring paperwork and manual investigation on the part of officers for each and every sale, much of the process is automatic, and the information is available to the involved departments on demand.

"This system makes use of current technology and assists our investigators in being more efficient and effective," Bayonne Police Department captain George Farley said to The Hudson Reporter. "Detectives will no longer have to visit individual businesses for stolen property. Transactions will be viewed at their desktop or mobile device."

Officers now have far more control over the records of these sales and share a single database that makes tracking potential fraudulent sales across multiple jurisdictions a much more manageable process. Participants believe the system will only grow more effective as more departments join the program.

SC law enforcement using DNA to tie owners to possessions

The Bluffton, South Carolina, police department is using a different approach to combating thieves and robbers. The department recently acquired technology that allows individuals in the community to use a micro dot system to tie a unique set of DNA to the valuable items they own, according to local news station WTOC. The system allows Bluffton officers to easily return such items to their rightful owners if they catch the criminals responsible for the theft or track down the valuables later on. This innovative crime control effort was implemented in hopes of curtailing theft inside the Bluffton Police Department's jurisdiction.

Individuals must purchase the kits at local stores, but the added security of the process - and the unique identifiers tied to each individual user - may make the purchase worthwhile for many residents. The small dots placed on each piece of property are difficult to notice for those unfamiliar with the system, and its manufacturer believes removal by criminals is unlikely as well as a time-consuming and extensive process.

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