INDIANAPOLIS --Homeowners are tasked with telling police which items were stolen during a break-in, but experts believe many can’t tell what belongings were taken.
Police investigators said making an inventory of your items can help you reunite with them later. Cash, electronics, jewelry, guns and prescription drugs are usually what thieves search for during the typical 4-7 minutes inside a home, police said.
“Make sure you keep those items somewhere that's not as obvious,” said Erin Elam, Marion County Deputy Prosecutor. “Most people keep those items in your master bedroom. If you have an iPad, you use that around your couch and burglars know that as well."
The prosecutor’s office encourages people to keep track of their items using a free kit called Safety by Design. Office employees distributes invisible blue UV pens for owners to write their personalized code on the back of their belongings. If stolen, the items are recovered by police and a black light will reveal the code.
“We sign people up and put them in a registry. What they do is create a unique code with a combination of codes and numbers,” said Elam.
Police are also able to use a database called LeadsOnline to track down stolen items. Pawn Shops in Marion County are required to use the system to log serial numbers and descriptions of their items. Indianapolis detectives said they have solved several crimes using the system.
“The police department comes in and they actually confiscate the item and give it back to the victim and the person who brought the item in is now prosecuted because we have all of their data,” said Jay Justice, general manager of Indy Pawn.
The stored data includes the seller’s photo, name, thumbprint and video from in-store cameras.
If homeowners are looking for another option, Don Wilson of State Farm Insurance suggests shooting video of what’s in each room of your home using your smartphone.
“With today's climate with smart phones, take pictures of everything that you have and put it on the cloud and it's there,” he said.
Those interested in Safety By Design can get more information by emailing MCPO@indy.gov.