14th District officer encourages residents to enroll in Operation ID to safeguard belongings

14th District Officer Synell Hall came to the April meeting of the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch on Thursday evening to get the word out about the Philadelphia Police Department’s latest anti-crime initiative, Operation ID.

“It’s basically a way to try and deter your items from being stolen,” said Hall, the Community Relations Officer for the 14th District.

The program is designed both to deter thefts and burglaries as well as to make recovery of stolen items easier if they are taken, she said. It’s similar to previous anti-theft programs sponsored by the department in that it involves marking valuable items so that they can be identified, but it’s easier to implement.

Previously, the department urged homeowners to have ID numbers engraved on their belongings. With Operation ID, applicants fill out a form and the department will affix ID numbers to 10 easily attacheable small stickers which it will send to the homeowner. Homeowners also receive two large stickers that can be affixed at the front and back of houses, warning would-be thieves that belongings inside have been tagged.

The silvery ID stickers for belongings are small and easily concealed, said Hall, who urged that those in the program put them in inconspicuous spots so that they will be less likely to be removed by thieves in the case of theft. iPhones and iPads, for example, are among the items most frequently stolen in the 14th District, she said. She suggested taking the battery out of smartphones and placing the stickers there. 

Backing up the sticker system, she said, is increased surveillance of items taken to pawnshops, where stolen itmes are often taken. Laws regarding pawnshops now require them to post pictures of pawned items online.

“Police officers check the website every day,” Hall said, adding that those wishing to pawn items must also now have picture ID and be fingerprinted.

Those interested in signing up for the program can call Hall at the 14th district station at (215) 685-2148. Applications can be picked up at the 14th District headquarters at 43 West Haines St. or can be found online. Stickers will be mailed to those registering.

Hall also urged that people with surveillance cameras to sign up with the city’s SafeCam program. SafeCam, introduced in 2011, allows police to check footage from registered cameras in the area if a crime is committed. The system was instrumental in the arrest of suspects in the slaying of off-duty Police Officer Moses Walker last fall, she said.

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