Operation Identification: Engrave your Valuables

Operation Identification allows individuals to engrave uniquely identifiable numbers into their expensive items. In the case an item gets stolen and is recovered, the engravings allow officers to return the items to their owners.

Begin by completing the inventory form. Fill out all information and keep in a safe place. In case any of the items are lost or stolen this allows you to have a quick reference as to their specifications.

Then, have the GW Police Department conspicuously mark each item of personal property with a unique identifier, preferably your driver's license number. This accomplishes the following:

  • Marked property makes stolen goods difficult to sell.
  • Marking property contributes to a higher rate of conviction for those apprehended with it in their possession.
  • Marked property makes it easier for law enforcement officials to return it to the rightful owner if it is stolen or lost. The system requires a small amount of time and effort on your part, but the property identification and inventory (see below) will protect you and your property. The purpose of the inventory record is to give law enforcement officials essential information if you are victimized.

What to Mark and How To Mark It

For hard objects such as computers, bicycles, radios, stereos, televisions, cameras, watches, sporting goods, and appliances use an engraving tool (GWPD can engrave it for you at Rome Hall Suite 101, in a residence hall, or office) to mark your identification on a conspicuous permanent part of the item. Make sure the mark is legible.

For items that cannot be marked such as jewelry, musical instruments, antiques, etc., place the object against a plain background and take several color photographs from different angles. Include a ruler with the picture for scale. Label the pictures and keep them with this form.

For soft or porous items such as leather, fiberboard, or cloth use a contrasting marker.

What Number To Use

Do not use your Social Security Number. The most effective number is your state driver's license number. Law enforcement agencies across the country have access to this number through state motor vehicle databases. Assign each item a different number by adding a number to the end of your driver's license number for each item. The final digit (item number) is required by the FBI so that if the item is ever stolen it will have a unique number for entry into the National Crime Information System. Make sure all identifying marks and numbers are included on the inventory form.

More Information:

To schedule a time to have GWPD assist you in engraving your items, please contact Sgt Broady at jbroady@gwu.edu.