It’s a task widely overlooked, but one strongly recommended by local authorities.
As the holiday season has come and gone, Prince George RCMP is reminding once again that property crime can be prevented, especially when it comes to new electronic devices residents may have received as gifts this year.
A new television, smartphone, tablet or even a new shiny coffee-maker can entice thieves when an opportunity presents itself.
Mounties say taking a few seconds to write electronic and appliance information is not only a smart way of keeping items in order, but could help get them back in your possession if possibly stolen.
“The make, model and value of the item are important bits of information that will help an investigation, but the serial number of the item is vital if you become a victim of property crime,” explains Prince George RCMP Cst. Jennifer Cooper.
“Police add the serial numbers to a national database that any police officer in the country can check.
“A serial number is one of a kind and virtually indisputable piece of evidence in court. Even if there is no evidence to support a Break & Enter Charge, it is solid evidence to support a Possession of Stolen Property charge.”
In November 2019, Maclean’s Magazine published Prince George as the 17th most dangerous city in Canada in terms of theft and property crimes as 87 robberies were recorded in data released in July the same year.
That’s a rate of 109.5 per 100,000 people.
Subsequently, there were 643 break-and-enter incidents and 392 cases of fraud.
Cooper adds, with the possibility of others owning the same electronic devices, not having specific information during an investigation can lead to challenges in recovering them.
“For example, it is likely that you are not the only person who bought a particular make and model of television. If your home is broken into and the police catch someone with the same make and model of television that you just had stolen, without identifying markers it may be difficult to prove in court that it belongs to you.”
RCMP also suggest taking photos of your belongings in addition to writing down specific, identifiable details, including:
- Make and model
- Purchase price
- Serial number
- Accurate description (ie. colour, size, stickers, noticeable scratches, etc.)
This could also be useful, police say, when a property-crime victim needs to make a claim as insurance companies will keep copies of the information free of charge.
“The Prince George RCMP would also like to suggest that property owners engrave their driver’s license number on their valuables. This allows the police to access the property owner’s information from anywhere, possibly even before the owner knows it is missing,” Cooper adds, while also noting if no other evidence is found in a particular case, the thief or thieves could be let go with the property.
“An engraved driver’s license number would give the officer a chance to contact that person and make enquiries. Even if the owner is not home, police would have grounds to hold that property until they can speak with the owner of the item.”
Anyone with information about property-related crimes is encouraged to call Prince George RCMP at 250-561-3300, anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or go online to www.pgcrimestoppers.bc.ca.