Sarnia police are hoping a new property-tracking technology will reduce thefts and help officers return stolen items to their rightful owners.
The Sarnia service announced this week it’s starting to use Trace pen technology.
The pens, available for $40 through Burlington-based RSR Solutions Inc. and at Home Hardware stores, contain micro-dot discs, about the size of a grain of sand, said Const. Chris Moxley.
Those discs are laser-etched with a number unique to every pen.
Users register their pen number in an online database managed by RSR Solutions Inc., and mark their stuff with a hard-to-remove gluey substance, containing the discs, that becomes virtually invisible when it dries, Moxley said.
Each pen can mark about 50 items, he said.
Police have access to the database through RSR.
If stolen property that’s been marked is recovered by police, officers, using a black light, can find where the property is marked, then retrieve the number using a magnification device, Moxley said. Police then match the number to the database.
â€œA systemic problem for police is being able to identify to whom (recovered stolen) property belongs to,â€ he said.
People often don’t write down serial numbers, he said, noting even if they do, those numbers are sometimes filed off when property is stolen.
This new system could help solve that problem, he said.
â€œThe Trace pen, the bad guys don’t know where it is on the property, nor do they have the technology to find it,â€ he said.
So far about 10 officers in Sarnia have been trained to use the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police-endorsed technology, he said.
The Sarnia service is expecting to get four donated magnification devices that can also take photos for evidence, he said.
Using the technology costs police nothing, he said.
â€œIt’s just training.â€
It’s hoped Trace pen users, and pawn shops and second-hand stores â€” where stolen goods could be sold â€” will put up Trace pen signs to also deter criminals, Moxley said.
Police noted the technology will likely make its biggest impact in break and enter cases and when goods are stolen from vehicles.
â€œI’m optimistic,â€ Moxley said. â€œI’m hoping it works out well.â€
There were 469 break and enters and 449 thefts from vehicles in Sarnia between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30 last year, the most up-to-date police data says.