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It Isn't Just Engraving Anymore! New Approach to Combating Theft on Campus

NCJ Number
Campus Law Enforcement Journal Volume: 32 Issue: 6 Dated: November/December 2002 Pages: 18-19
John R. Kleberg
Date Published
November 2002
2 pages
This article describes the characteristics and security uses of Ohio State University's Web-based registry of personal property.
Theft prevention on college campuses has for years included the engraving of valuable items with a number that identifies the owner, so as to reduce the desirability of stealing the item; however, students are often reluctant to mar expensive electronic equipment with such an engraving. As an alternative, Ohio State University has developed a Web-based registry of personal property for students. Students can enter descriptive information for an item directly into an on-line database. To eliminate inappropriate items, a system administrator reviews entries before they become part of the database. In addition to having an on-line record of their property for insurance purposes, students can request that an item be removed, signal that it is missing or stolen, or otherwise revise the record. Any change is reviewed by the system administrator prior to its implementation in the database. University and local police have password access to the file to search for items that they recover or suspect might be stolen. The system response is not proof of theft, but does alert police to the fact that the item being investigated may be stolen. An effective method for recovering student bicycles has been the use of an RFID (radio frequency identification device). The RFID is a small plastic cap with a passive transponder, which, when excited, emits a unique number. The RFID is placed in the bicycle seat post. The RFID number is recorded, along with the serial number and other identification information, for use by the owner and police should the bicycle be stolen. An officer reads the RFID by removing the bike seat and inserting a special reader antenna into the post. Once the device is installed, it cannot be removed without difficulty.