The Home Office offer the following excellent
advice on protecting your valuables by postcoding them
Coded for keeps: Postcoding your property can help deter
your property can deter burglars and help the police to get your
property back to you if it is stolen.
HOW SAFE ARE YOUR POSSESSIONS?
Do you own things of sentimental value which would be
impossible to replace? Or things which could be replaced but at a
Your possessions may mean a lot to you but to a thief they are
just another way of making easy cash.
Of course the best thing to do it to protect your home against
the thief. But if someone did break in and steal things, could you
describe them fully and accurately to the police? It’s not as easy
as it sounds when all you have to rely on is your memory.
Every year, property worth hundreds of thousands of pounds is
recovered by the police and not returned to its rightful owners,
simply because it can’s be properly identified.
Property marking deters thieves. They find identifiable
property dangerous to handle and difficult to dispose of. It also
helps the police to return your property if it is found.
Postcode your property
Your postcode, plus your house or flat number (or the first two
letters of your house name) provides a simple and unique way of
identifying your property. A person living at 7 West Albion
Street, Notown NT42 9WA for example would NT42 9WA 7. A person
living at Crossroads Cottage, High Street Anytown AN3 1NZ would
use AN3 1NZ CR.
If you don’t know your postcode, ask at your local post office.
How to mark your property
There are several ways to mark your property depending on the
type of object you want to mark. The alternatives are:-
Engraving or etching
Engraving or etching is suitable for many hard surfaces and can
be done using an electric engraving tool or a hand engraver. This
method leaves a visible and permanent mark.
Ultra Violet or ‘Invisible’ Marking
An Ultra-Violet (UV) pen can put an invisible mark on your
property which can only be seen by using a UV lamp. Only use UV
marking when other methods would reduce the value of the object.
Remember that the mark can fade in time, especially when exposed
to sunlight, and can be washed off so it needs renewing regularly.
Ceramic marking pens have been developed to mark china, glass
or any glazed surface. They do not cut or scratch the surface but
leave a permanent mark.
You can mark heavier metal items such as lawn mowers with a
hammer and a set of punches.
Where you mark your property is important – particularly
if you are using the engraving method. If you want the mark to be
out of sight, choose somewhere behind or underneath the article –
but not somewhere so hidden that the police would not be able to
Try to mark a surface that cannot be removed without spoiling
the appearance or performance of the article.
You can get easy-to-use property marking kits from stationers
and DIY stores.
Keep a record of your property
Marking things like jewellery or antiques is difficult and
could reduce their value. You should get expert advice in these
You can still protect items that can’t be marked by keeping a
record of them. A simple and effective way of doing this is to
photograph each item, preferably in colour, paying special
attention to any distinguishing marks such as initials or crests
which may be used to identify the item. Take the photograph
against a plain background and include a ruler to give an idea of
Use the record form on this leaflet to keep a list of the items
you have marked and where the marks are. It’s a good idea to give
a second copy of the list and the photographs to someone you trust
for them to look after.
Keep your own list safe at all times.
Advertising the fact that your property has been marked may
warn off thieves. You can do this by displaying a ‘Coded for
Keeps’ sticker anywhere a burglar might get in, for example on the
doors and windows of your home.
For more advice on marking or protecting your property, contact
your local police station.
For a copy of
Your Practical Guide to Crime Prevention contact the Crime
Prevention Officer at your local police station or write to:
Crime Prevention Publicity
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London SW1H 9AT