The Ultimate Guide to Property Marking
By Tony Parkes
Dec 10, 2020
If a thief was faced with two items ripe for the taking, both of the same value, but one was marked and registered, and the other one wasn’t, which do you think he would take? There are of course no prizes for guessing the answer. Which leads us to pose a second question: have you marked your valuables? If you’re not sure how property marking works, or why you should be doing it, read on for our experts’ ultimate guide.
When you mark your property, whatever method you use, it makes it instantly identifiable to you and your address. There are many key benefits here. One is that should your valuables be stolen, it will make so much easier for the police to recover them. Another is that marked property acts as a deterrent to thieves. This is because it is much more difficult to sell on, and of course it is traceable and much more likely to result in a successful prosecution.
What’s more, if you display a sticker in your window stating that your property is marked, it is more likely that a potential intruder will give up before they’ve even started.
How do I mark my property?
There are various methods you can use to mark your property.
If you are considering going down the simple route of writing your postcode on your valuables, do think twice about how effective this is going to be. If you move house, will you remember to change the postcode? Is there really any proof that the item wasn’t sold on? Do you really want to deface your antiques, heirlooms or artworks by writing a postcode on them?
UV pens may allow you to write your postcode or name on valuables ‘invisibly’, but the issue with UV ink is that it can fade in the sunlight, so it isn’t really permanent.
Etching using an engraving tool is another method you can use to inscribe your name or postcode onto an item. It is of course permanent, but do you really want to blemish your valuables in this way, or devalue your heirlooms?
In reality, these are all very limited methods for marking property, and there are many more advanced strategies you can employ. The Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB), with the support of the police, insurance providers and the government, has published standards for property marking systems.
These standards specify that the marked asset can be traced to the legal owner through a secure database register linked to the marking system, and act as a deterrent by visible marking. Property marking systems that meet these standards are regularly assessed by the LPCB to ensure quality remains consistent.
What are the best ways to security mark my valuables?
DNA, microdot and chemical marking work well for all types of valuables. The major advantage with these methods is that they can be used to mark pretty much anything, without causing any damage to the item. They are all easy, fast ways to mark property, and virtually impossible to remove. The only thing is, if these systems are to be used as a deterrent, they do need to be used in conjunction with a system that shows they are in use, such as tamper-proof stickers.
Microdot property marketing
Microdots are small discs suspended in an adhesive solution that contains a dye that shows up under UV light. Simply apply a small amount of the solution with a brush to the product surface. Each microdot has its own unique code and database contact telephone number printed on it. You can just about see the dots with the naked eye, but the details printed on them can only be seen under a microscope. If an item is stolen and later recovered, the discs can be checked against a database to identify the owner.
DNA property marking
Synthetic DNA is used in a variety of property marking substances, each of which carries a tracer dye that is visible under UV light. When suspects and any ‘loot’ arrive at police stations, they are all checked under UV light. Each DNA substance is uniquely registered to an individual address, which means the thief can be linked to the scene of the crime easily. Synthetic DNA is used in water-based adhesives that can be painted onto individual assets (SmartWater being one example); in water -based sprays that can be deployed in response to an alarm or movement sensor, or manually by hand; in grease that can be applied to outdoor items, such as roofing and piping, and in gel that can be applied to indoor window handles, doors and cash registers.
Chemical property marking
Chemical property marking systems work in a similar way to DNA marking, instead using inert chemical compounds rather than synthetic DNA. Each product batch is unique and includes a dye that is traceable under UV light.
This method involves RFID chips being hidden on valuable items. The transponder chips are very small, and are fitted with a unique ID code that can be read by a handheld scanner used by the police. This type of system is often used on the likes of construction equipment, antiques, sports equipment and vehicles. RFID chips can also be used to protect company assets and store stock by setting off an alarm should someone walk out of a building without the tag being deactivated.
What property should I mark?
Every home or business premises contains multiple items of value and you could literally be on the job all day when it comes to marking, so what should be prioritised?
The answer here lies in what is most attractive to thieves. The most common items, according to the Crime Prevention Website, are jewellery, tech, televisions, handbags, wallets, car keys, sports equipment, power tools, garden tools, personal documents, antiques and works of art, collectibles and metals.
Is there a way to register valuables?
It is advisable to keep an asset inventory for your home or business comprising photographs, receipts, warranty details and valuations. This will make it more straightforward to file a police report and make an insurance claim should the need arise. You can do this via a written list, a spreadsheet, or a custom designed smart device app.
Immobilise is a free, accredited database that anyone can use to register their valuables. It is designed to help the police identify owners of recovered property, and exists to help combat the sale of stolen valuables by alerting the second-hand trade and publicly checkable stolen goods database if an item goes missing.
Bicycles of value can be registered at BikeRegister. Just add the details of your bike to this national police-approved database for free; mark and protect your bike with one of the security marking kits available from the website (prices starting from £12.99), then apply a warning label to reduce your risk of theft by warning thieves that you use BikeRegister. An effective theft deterrent, and proven to help retrieve stolen bicycles by proving ownership.
Protect your property with help from Barry Bros Security
There are plenty of ways you can protect your valuable assets using property marking systems. Remember though that layered security solutions are the most effective, so alongside your chosen marking technique, be sure to choose appropriate security measures to add that extra layer of protection for your treasured items.
For tailored advice on protecting what matters most to you, you are welcome to get in touch with the experts at Barry Bros Security.