Operation Identification is a program to prevent theft and burglary by permanently marking and registering valuable property and notifying potential thieves and burglars that this action has been taken.
Most sources credit the Chief of Police in Monterey Park, California, with starting this property marking program in 1963. The program was so successful in reducing burglaries that it has spread throughout the country.
The program has four major advantages regarding property marked in accordance with the program guides:
- Deters Crime; thieves and burglars are less likely to steal an item that can be positively identified and that will be difficult to sell.
- Positive Identification; The owner of stolen or lost property can easily be located through existing records.
- Helps Criminal Prosecution; The arresting officers can more can more readily use the stolen property in pursuing the case through the courts.
- Aids Recovery; Stolen and/or lost property is more likely to be returned to the owner.
The Crime Prevention Unit will issue an Operation Identification number that is unique to Rochester/Olmsted County area. This number is known as an Owner Applied Number (OAN) and can be used to identify the property marked with that number from anywhere in the country. Be sure to use all of the letters and numbers assigned to you when marking your property.
The Operation Identification number issued is based on the ORI of the police department. The ORI is the computer address for any law enforcement agency in the country that has an National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer system. The ORI for Olmsted County and Rochester Police Department begins with MN055; additional letter and numbers are added to give a unique personal ID number. An example would be MN055000GM12345.
There are various ways to mark your personal property, the most common being an electric engraver. Be sure to practice using the engraver on something of no value before you actually mark your items of value, there is no eraser! Hold the engraver upright and use slow, smooth strokes.
Mark anything of value that can be marked. If an item is an heirloom or would lose its value if marked with an engraver then DO NOT engrave it! Follow the same procedure you would to have that item insured, photograph it and file that photo with a written description of the item. Be sure to have something else in the photo to show the size of the item.
You may borrow an engraver, at no cost, from the Crime Prevention Unit or you may check it out from the Rochester Public Library.
If you have any you may e-mail the Crime Prevention Unit or call them at (507)328-6890.