If your valuables were stolen and recovered by police, would officers have any way to know it belonged to you? Resolving that problem is something the Citrus Heights Police Department says it seeks to address through offering a “My Property” program as a free service to the community.
The simple program allows Citrus Heights residents to submit a photo and serial number of their valuables, along with their drivers license number in the subject line, to a dedicated police email inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org. If one of the items is reported stolen later on, police can then search the inbox using the owner’s drivers license number associated with the items, locate the serial number, and then enter it into a system as being lost or stolen.
“Whenever those serial numbers are run in the system, they will come back as lost or stolen and your chances of recovering your lost or stolen items will be much greater,” police say in a flier advertising the program. Having a serial number show up in the system also allows police to arrest a person in possession of the stolen property.
The program was launched in November 2012 at the prompting of a CHPD tech crimes detective as a way to “encourage the public to keep track of serial numbers and reunite victims with lost or stolen property,” according to Community Services Officer Larissa Wasilevsky.
In an email interview with The Sentinel, Wasilevsky explained more about the program.
How important is it to document valuables with a photo and serial number? Is a receipt for the item enough?
“Serial numbers are important in differentiating items that are mass produced so that victims of lost/stolen property can be reunited with their items in the case they become lost or stolen. A photo isn’t necessary but part of the ease in sending this information to email@example.com is that people can easily snap a photo with their phone of a serial number on an item and email that photo in with their driver license number in the subject line of the email. Receipts don’t always list the item serial numbers.”
Are most property owners aware of the importance of keeping a record of serial numbers and photos of their valuables?
“In my experience, most people don’t necessarily take the time to keep track of all of their serial numbers due to either lack of education on why they should keep them or because it is cumbersome to keep track of so many serialized items. When I educate the public on the importance of writing down serial numbers, I ask them to try to view this from the criminal’s perspective.
If they were a criminal and only had 5-10 minutes to break into their vehicle or home and take some items, what items would be the most enticing for them to take? Those top 10 items, at the very least, would be the items they would want to email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write them down and keep them in a safe place.”
Can photos of jewelry items without a serial number be submitted?
“If the jewelry is engraved, that engraving can be used as a serial number in the case that item is lost or stolen. For jewelry that doesn’t have engraving, they can take a photo of the item and send that in, but the item needs to have characteristics that are identifiable. Heirloom jewelry with unique settings are a great example of jewelry that is identifiable.”
What happens when stolen property is recovered by police?
“The serial number is run to see if it has been reported lost/stolen. If the item comes back to a filed report, depending on calls for service, the officer will attempt to call the property owner to reunite them with their lost/stolen property immediately. If they are unable to make contact with the owner, they book the item into our Property and Evidence Unit who will send a notice to the owner in the mail to their last known address and the address listed under their driver license.”
What do police do if someone’s valuables are taken and they don’t have photos or serial numbers?
“If the item comes back clear because the victim was not able to provide a serial number, our Property and Evidence Unit houses it for a period of time depending on the status of the item/case it may be associated with.”
What happens to stolen property where the owner can’t be located?
“Depending on the item, after the period of time is up, the item will either be destroyed, auctioned off, or donated to one of the many organizations and programs we donate to. Some (very few) of the items are auctioned at www.propertyroom.com. These funds are transferred into the City’s General Fund. In the last fiscal year these funds amounted to $2,200.”
Are there any stories you can share about the program helping recover any property in the past?
“Not at this time, but our desire is to grow the knowledge and participation in this free program in the hopes of reuniting a future victim with their lost or stolen property.”
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For more information about the “My Property” program and instructions on how to submit photos of valuables, visit www.citrusheights.net/864/MyProperty
If your valuables were stolen and recovered by police, would officers have any way to know it belonged to you? Resolving that problem is something the Citrus Heights Police Department says it seeks to address through offering a "My Property" program as a free service to the community.
The simple program allows Citrus Heights residents to submit a photo and serial number of their valuables, along with their drivers license number in the subject line, to a dedicated police email inbox...
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