Operation Identification

Operation Identification is a nationally recognized property identification program open to all members of the Allegheny College community. Our goal is to deter thefts and burglary and aid in the recovery of stolen property. This is accomplished by engraving personal belongings and tracking important identifying information about such items. Marked property is difficult for a thief or burglar to dispose of or resell, and can be traced to the rightful owner with relative ease. If someone is caught with marked property, it is solid evidence of possession of stolen goods.

What Items Should Be Engraved?

  • Television
  • Stereo/components
  • Cameras
  • Radios
  • VCRs/DVDs
  • Calculators
  • Computers
  • Handheld PCs
  • Cell Phones
  • Disk Players

How to Participate

To participate in Operation Identification, call Safety and Security at x3357 for information or stop by the Safety and Security Department at the Observatory between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. A Safety and Security employee will engrave the item(s) for you and obtain the necessary identifying information; or, if available, loan you free of charge an electric engraving device. You will be required to sign a form to sign out an engraver. Engravers must be returned within 48 hours. There will also be scheduled times that Officers will be engraving items in the residence halls and the Campus Center. Participants in the program will receive an “Operation Identification” sticker to place on their residence hall door to show that items in this room have been engraved to prevent theft. Employees who opt to do their homes can place the sticker on their front door. Safety and Security accept no responsibility for any damage that might be done to internal components of electronic devices we engrave.

Using the Engraver

The electric engraver is easy and safe to operate. Before marking your valuables, get the “feel” for the engraver by writing your name a few times on a piece of scrap paper. Hold the engraver as you would a pencil. There is no need to press down on the engraver – just move your hand slowly and evenly, allowing the vibrating point to do the work. When marking on glass, ceramic or wood, hold the point perpendicular/vertical to the material to prevent chipping or splintering.

Engrave your driver’s license number preceded by the two-letter identifier/abbreviation for your state or country of legal residence; for example PA22036957. If engraving multiple items, add a secondary personal identification in sequential order for each item being engraved; for example, PA 22036957-1, PA 22036957-2, etc. Notice that there are no gaps or spaces in the numbers shown. Never use your social security number! Your social security number in the hands of the wrong person could result in your becoming the victim of identity theft. [Note: International students should substitute their passport number in lieu of the driver's license number.]

As you engrave your items, engrave the number on an area that cannot be easily dismantled/removed. But mark them as conspicuously as possible without defacing them. Part of Operation Identification’s objectives is to warn thieves away. So don’t try to hide the fact that an item has been engraved.

After marking your property, fill out the inventory list and bring it to Safety and Security. Record the following information about each item:

  • Brand Name
  • Model Number
  • Serial Number
  • Estimated Value (i.e., original purchase or replacement price)
  • Color
  • Any other descriptive information

If You Are a Student

A copy of your list will be filed at Safety and Security. If you subsequently become the victim of a theft or burglary, the list will be quickly available to Safety and Security. It is also recommended that you videotape or photograph your valuables, especially jewelry that can lose value by being engraved. Videotapes and photographs can also help in the recovery of items. Send the videotape home or secure it in a safe or fireproof container.

Also, be sure to engrave and add to your original list (or videotape) any valuables you subsequently purchase or receive, such as gifts during holidays or on special occasions like birthdays.

Remember – living in a residence hall has as many potential disadvantages as advantages. The chance for your valuables to be missing increases as the number of people who have access to your room increases. Even short trips to the laundry room or restroom can give a thief the opportunity to take some of your valuables. Make it that much harder to become a victim by participating in Operation Identification!