Monday, 18 February 2008

Update: Anti-theft/anti-crime web site:

Here's an update to my blog on 5th Feb 2008:

In the recent cases of mugging and theft of cell phones and other crimes, etc. etc. etc.... the victims would have tried to broadcast to all 2nd hand shops etc. that their belongings were now possibly going to be sold on the second hand market.....and to please contact the police if someone tried to flog their belongings to them. In fact, I heard one victim's husband calling the radio (Cape Talk 567) to notify people to watch out for his wife's Garmin watch.
In most cases, I am bold enough to assume, the serial numbers were not known....
If these people had used the web site then it would have been easy to:
1) tag their items as stolen immediately after their unfortunate incidents; and
2) to also use the site to "remember" the serial numbers and report these to the police or other parties.

Some people have raised the concern of putting their possessions' details on the Internet - one must realise that the items are viewable by the general public only after you have tagged it as stolen. All other items and details are hidden from the public.
In any case, if you are nervous, then only provide the web site with your email address as the means for contacting you if/when an item of yours is recovered.
ie. don't provide any other details to the web site, and nobody will be able to link the list of items to you. In fact, when recording your goods, include as few details as you are comfortable with e.g. "TV in main bedroom": serial number: A34567890.
If it gets stolen, then update the details to something like: "Sony Vega 54cm colour TV" and tag it as stolen (and get the serial number A34567890 from the web site in case you need it for insurance purposes etc.)

Second hand stores like Cash Converters do not like stolen goods in their stores - it's a big problem when the police confiscate stolen goods from them: they lose money and lots of time trying to explain to the authorities where/who they got the goods from. They would also prefer to keep their reputation clean so that the general public use their stores to purchase legitimate products.
I have heard of certain store managers that have suspected that the goods were stolen and executed citizens arrests - the police were called and the law took its course...

At present there is no live system to publish lists of stolen goods to second hand stores. They rely on the victims and police faxing them the details/photos of the stolen goods. You can imagine how slow and inefficient this is! is an attempt to provide an up-to-date system where people can immediately broadcast what's been stolen, and for the purchasers to check before purchasing stolen goods and so, hopefully, stop fuelling this vicious cycle of the stolen second hand goods market.

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