CopDots offer property owners a way to safeguard their valuables and give police a new weapon for identifying stolen property

Recognizing and returning stolen merchandise may be as easy as connecting the ‘dots’ moving forward thanks to a partnership between the Canby Police Department and a product called CopDots.

by: JOHN BAKER - With the CopDot program, Canby police will be better able to identify people's lost or stolen property by looking through a magnifying device that reveals the ‘dot' and its personalized identification numbers. The high-tech property marking program will offer police the chance to identify more stolen merchandise and increase the odds of those hit by theft, getting their stuff back. That, said Canby Police Chief Bret Smith, is a win-win for the community.

Canby Police announced the partnership last week during a demonstration of the product by DataDot Security Solutions, which produces CopDots. As explained by DataDots’ representative Michael Whitestone, the process has been made wonderfully simple.

Through a pen-like apparatus, property owners and the police can place virtually-invisible-to-the-naked-eye property-identification numbers on items folks want to keep track of — electronics, jewelry, musical instruments, weapons and more.

Simply tap the pen onto the surface of the desired item in several spots and what is created is a security code on the item that isn’t visible to the naked eye.

Each dot placed carries a 12-digit identification number that is unique to the person who purchases the pens.

Those numbers, which are visible only through a magnifying glass, are registered online and suddenly a database of security numbers are available to police who access the system.

Police will have a special identification tool that they can scan over an item and it will reveal a slightly bluish dot. That alerts them that the item has been marked and registered. A quick look through the magnifying glass will reveal the number and the original owner.

Smith said he saw the CopDots program as not only a crime prevention tool, but as a far more effective way of getting stolen property back to its owners.

“Having that secure data base allows the citizens to manage their property and gives law enforcement a real good ability to identify ownership of stolen property,” Smith said. “It’s new age technology. Our police department will now have a means to identify stolen property. Here, for a small investment, people can protect things that are important to them.”

CopDots are available at Lowe’s Home Improvement stores and at the Canby Police Department, the company’s first official partnership with a law enforcement entity.

Last year, the Canby Police Department investigated 230 thefts and much of that property that was stolen was never recovered. Smith said that once an item has been marked, it becomes much easier to trace back to its owner.

Currently, CopDots are available in six other states and Whetstone said the company, now based in Charlotte, N.C., is headed to Texas. In Oregon, Lincoln City is seriously considering a partnership with CopDots as well. Smith said he could see the effectiveness of this system growing and extending to other law enforcement entities.

“It wouldn’t be isolated to Clackamas County or Canby,” he said. “It would help us recover property from other areas as well.”

CopDots sells for $29.98 at Lowe’s, though registering the number online is free.

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