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Police stress holiday safety

By Brie Handgraaf

December 24, 2013

Officials are urging residents to add a step in between unwrapping and displaying that new 80-inch LED television – record the serial number in case a Grinch flees with that and more.

"We work with law enforcement day-in and day-out and when they are working property crimes, the biggest thing they say they come across is victims who don't have the serial number or photographs to identify the property that was stolen," said Lindsay Williams, director of communications for LeadsOnline. "That is critical evidence they need and they told us their lives would be easier if people could go online and record information on their valuables, so we developed ReportIt."

The ReportIt citizen property inventory system is available to residents who live in jurisdictions where LeadsOnline is used, including Rocky Mount.

The free online system allows residents to catalog identifying information – serial numbers, owner-applied numbers, photographs of property and even scans of receipts – on up to 100 items. Accounts are password protected and while information can be accessed anywhere, it can only can done by the user.

Police recommended residents upgrade from traditional paper copies of property inventories to ReportIt or another online system since paper copies often can get misplaced. However, it is equally important for residents to update inventories throughout the year as valuables are bought and sold.

The Rocky Mount Police Department has an engraver tool that can be borrowed to inscribe identifying information – such as driver's license numbers – on property without serial numbers. Jewelers also can engrave microscopic identifiers on precious stones and jewelry.

Authorities emphasized the importance of including these markers in property inventories, and if the worst should occur and an item is stolen, don't forget to notify law enforcement of the identifying marks.

Information on stolen property can be entered into a national database, which is accessible by law enforcement across the country.

If a stolen item is recovered, not only can the item be returned to the proper owner, the information also can assist officers in bringing charges against the suspects responsible.

Law enforcement officers added that residents should use extra precaution when it comes to trashing boxes for valuables. Break-down or flip boxes inside out – especially for the 80-inch television – and avoid placing them out with the trash. Instead, put the boxes in trash bags or concealed in trash bins or communal dumpsters.

While attending holiday get-togethers, don't forget to close drapes and curtains, lock doors and avoid leaving valuables in plain-sight – whether in a garage or storage shed, mudroom or vehicle.

Rocky Mount police also can perform home security assessments to reduce burglary risks throughout the year.

For more information on LeadsOnline call (800) 311-2656

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