Each year hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of property is recovered by the Police but is not returned to its rightful owners. This is not a scam being operated by UK Police forces, its just that in many cases the original owner cannot be identified.
When it comes to property, recovered after a burglary, if an item cannot be identified as yours it can lead to an offender not being prosecuted and your property being returned to the thief.
Essex Police recover thousands of items of property each year, as a result of investigations or where it has been found and handed into a police station.
For property that is found and handed in, the item is kept usually for 28 days and if not claimed becomes the property of the finder.
Property seized during an investigation can be kept, for a considerably longer period of time. These items are held at property stores throughout the County and are often used as exhibits in subsequent court cases. Once the item has fulfilled its usefulness it is disposed of. This may be at an auction, given to charity or destroyed.
Property marking was first promoted by Neighbourhood Watch groups in the 1980's.
They supplied UV pens to mark items like TV's and Hi-Fi equipment with the owners post code.
Today there are also more sophisticated marking products available, including microdots with unique numbers and synthetic DNA with a UV tracer dye.
It is wise to make a note of expensive items including the make, model, serial numbers and any details that may help identify them if lost or stolen.
Keep receipts somewhere safe in case you need them later.
Photograph your valuables including any items that you do not want to security mark, paying special attention to any distinguishing marks such as initials or crests. Photographs should be taken against a plain background and include a ruler to give an idea of size/scale.
When suspected stolen property is recovered the items are checked for ownership details on the NMPR (National Mobile Property Register). This is a national database used by all Police forces in England and Wales. Details of property which have been stolen are also entered onto the system, when the crime is investigated.
The Immobilise system was setup in 2003 and has the support of the Police.
It is possible for anyone to pre-register their property on this database for free, using the immobilise web site. If a registered item is stolen this will be flagged up on the site. As well as the Police, insurance companies also have access, making any future claims easier.
A sister site checkMEND has been developed, where members of the public can be given reassurance that when buying on-line, an item is not registered as being stolen or reported lost.
Although, not currently used by Essex Police, a further site for recording lost property has been developed. "reportMyloss" is a Police endorsed site allowing the UK public to record lost property. This information is then placed on the UK Police on line systems allowing them to contact the owner if the property should be recovered.
Until Essex Police adopt this system, you need to report lost property or hand in found items at your nearest Police Station.
Social media is also being used to notify followers of lost property.
Most of these site's concentrate on lost and stolen animals and domestic pets.