SRI Security Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
Property marking, as a situational crime prevention technique, has found to be largely ineffectual in the reduction of property theft, although past studies have not considered the role property marking as an aid to the return of stolen or lost property. However, automotive identification and some studies have found that in some cases property marking is effective. Furthermore, many crime prevention groups focus on property marking as a means to reduce crime and the fear of crime.
Therefore, the study investigated the processes of lost, stolen and seized goods by law enforcement personnel. The study undertook a qualitative analysis of law enforcement property identification process, including a documentary analysis of procedures and practitioner interviews for content-thematic analysis.
The study found that the use of manufacturer serial numbers was the initial line of investigative enquiry. Limiting factors were technical capability to find and use covert property markings. The successful implementation of a code of best practice or standardisation in the recording of serial numbers, and the availability of the community to quickly and easily record their property may have a significant effect in the reduction of property crimes; due to the perceived increase of risk and potential reduction of reward to the offender.