Police: Write down serial numbers of your belongings in case thi - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Police: Write down serial numbers of your belongings in case thieves steal them

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Thieves are always on the prowl - looking for ways to break into houses and steal your property. Charlotte Mecklenburg Police are reminding people to write down the serial numbers for your items - or put identifying numbers - in the event burglars take off with them.

"The problem we run into is we recover so much property throughout the course of the year, that we don't know who it goes to  - it goes to auction" said Craig Allen, CMPD's Crime Prevention Specialist.

CMPD showed WBTV some of the unidentified items officers have recovered - including televisions, audio video equipment, motorized lawn equipment, bicycles, rims, car batteries, copper, skateboards - but will likely end up being auctioned off because no one has claimed them.

It's an issue that can be frustrating for officers.

"It is" said Officer Allen "because what we want to do is be able to get that property back to whoever it belongs to legitimately."

Allen said "we stop people that have different pieces of property in their vehicles or on them - if we can't prove ownership - basically they get to keep it until we can prove it's not theirs."

Police say when they recover items or find property, they check a data base to see if the serial number has been reported. If it has, officers can return it to the rightful owner.

Officer Allen said "the bottom line is it's up to the owner of the property to keep a record of it."

He said people should do "inventories of their houses - write down make, model, serial numbers, take photographs if it doesn't have a serial number associated with it."

The way Officer Allen sees it, "the important thing with this is when you purchase an item before you even start using it, take a moment to record that serial number."

The space CMPD set aside for large pieces of property is getting bigger.

"This gets cleaned out twice a year and the stuff - the items that aren't needed  - go to auction."

The auctions are held in April and September.

Televisions.

"That's one of the items they {thieves} go after" Officer Allen said. "They'll go in and just rip it off the wall and walk off with it. Play stations, X-boxes, all those gaming systems."

Bicycles.

"There are a lot of found bikes and a lot of stolen bikes" but Officer Allen added "on bicycles there's going to be some type of stamped serial number."

Motorized lawn equipment.

"That would definitely have several serial numbers written on it" Officer Allen said. "Hopefully the original owner has the serial number so they can get it back."

Cell phones and tablets.

"A lot of that has the serial number inside. We could contact the carrier and try to track down the owner that way" but Officer Allen said "obviously it's best if the person making the report has those numbers with them and can get to them pretty quickly."

Police said "the odds of getting it back increase as soon as you can get that information because we can track that type stuff." 

The bottom line, police say, is "it's a very simple step for you to record serial numbers on anything that has a serial number -even take a picture if it's a unique piece of property - could be jewelry. If it's a unique piece - take a picture of it - at least have that as proof of ownership."

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