Microtechnology helps return stolen belongings - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Microtechnology helps return stolen belongings

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We work hard day in and day out to be able to afford the things that we own. So its no wonder we try hard to protect those things from being stolen. From home security systems to deadbolts to motion detectors, we do everything we can to keep the bad guys from getting our belongings. But what if your things are stolen? Now there is a new way to help you get them back.

"We call it DNA for your property or digital nano-authenticators," says James Mounce, Director of Security Products for DataDots Dealer Services. "It's like a digital name tag for your property. It's little tiny writing on a microdot. Similar to when mom sent you off to camp as a kid and wrote your name on the back of your underwear, in case you lost it, your roommate borrowed it or one of the other campers ran it up a flagpole as a joke. You can identify it as yours so you can get it back."

It's called a CopDot pen. The pen puts out a mixture of glue and microdots with a number engraved on them. Each pen has a unique number that you register as your own in an online database. Use the pen on your property whatever it may be, computers, cell phones, family heirlooms and such. Then if something were to be stolen and recovered by law enforcement, they are able to read the CopDots, find you in the database and return your items.

"Very often we go to a burglary report and we ask the people, 'Ok, what kind of TV was it?' 'I don't know, it was this big and black.' They don't even remember the brand, much less, the serial number off the back. This way they don't even necessarily have to remember that stuff," says Sergeant Trevor Shelor with the Charleston Police Department. The microdots make it easier for both the victim and the officer.

Another great part of the CopDot is doesn't cost the police department anything. The company that makes them has provided equipment to them for free.

"We've provided all the detection equipment to law enforcement at no charge. Because if they don't participate, it doesn't work," says Mounce.

Thefts represent a large chunk of the crimes committed in the United States. The FBI reports that nationwide there were 354,396 robberies in 2011. That same year there were 2,188,055 burglaries and 6,159,795 larcenies.

In 2011 in the City of Charleston, there were 162 robberies, 533 burglaries and 2,975 larcenies.

The Charleston police department is the first law enforcement agency in South Carolina to use this new micro-dot technology. Richland County Sheriff's Department in the Midlands will start using CopDots next week. And the company is hoping to partner with other local law enforcement agencies in the near future.

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