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Cops examine property-tagging tech.

PenRichmond RCMP is preparing a case for an invisible property marking technology — where transparent markers are tagged onto valuables and logged with a serial number — already used other parts of Canada to reduce break-in-style crimes.

Cpl. Kevin Krygier, in charge of crime prevention with the Richmond detachment, said he’s now preparing a business case for city hall to approve a pilot project so the RCMP can hand out property tagging kits to residents in break-in hotspots around the city.

Over the long term, police want to encourage residents to start proactively marking their valuables by buying their own kits.

Not that long ago, we would give people an engraver and ask them to engrave their property … (but) you don’t want to scratch up your brand new Apple computer,” Krygier said on Monday.

One concern was figuring out what people should engrave on there to prove their ownership. Serial numbers were fine, but it wasn’t realistic to expect everyone to check their valuables’ serial numbers — if they even have them — and engrave them. Engraving your personal driver’s licence number was another option.

The new technology, micro etching, simplifies that process. The company RCMP have contacted use a glue pen tool where the invisible adhesive is filled with numerous tiny pieces of metal — each engraved with a single serial number unique to the pen, which can mark up to 50 things — that can be dabbed onto personal items.

The serial numbers are registered with the company in a database that police have access to. And whenever stolen property is recovered, police can use special equipment to identify if the property was tagged, and if so, what the pen’s serial number was.

The product also comes with a door sticker — similar to those used by alarm companies — to warn criminals the property they’re about to steal has been marked.

This product has been endorsed by the Ontario chiefs of police … traditionally, there’s a reliance on police to solve crime, I get that, but at the end of the day it’s also a partnership with the community to help themselves to prevent crime,” Krygier said.

Tom Pate, vice president of operations with Trace Identified — the company RCMP have contacted — said approximately 20 police agencies in Ontario and Alberta have adopted the technology.

To the naked eye they’re invisible. Unless you went crazy with the adhesive and made a bump, you wouldn’t feel it — it goes on like a film and sticks to the surface and the microdots are embedded in the resin,” he said.

Australia, South Africa and the U.K., they’ve been using this for over the past 15 years. They’ve got success stories of crime reduction of 50% — improving the chances of getting the product returned of 50-90% depending on where it is.

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