Micro-device could boost recovery of stolen goods | SierraSun.com

Micro-device could boost recovery of stolen goods

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunJonathan Sass, an agent for DataDots, holds a black light above a container of DataDots. The dots are the size of a pinpoint and are glued onto property with a special adhesive that glows under an ultraviolet light. Sass believes the dots would help to deter thefts.

A dot the size of a grain of sand with 12 lines of information scratched on its surface by laser could help local contractors recover stolen tools.

Sound like something out of CSI? It is.

The DataDot theft-recovery technology was featured on the hit television program CSI Miami, where it helped catch a fictional murderer.

At the moment, Truckee tech guru Jonathan Sass has his sights set on local building contractors. He wants them to consider buying the identification dots and gluing them onto their work tools. Sass also wants to convince University of Nevada at Reno officials to stock the high-tech dots in the campus bookstore so students, who carry thousands of dollars of electronics while attending class, can use them to deter theft.

“Thieves are generally lazy ” they’ll move on to something that is unmarked,” said Sass, the Truckee area’s salesman for the technology.

The dots are the size of a pinpoint and are glued onto property with a special adhesive that glows under an ultraviolet light. The tiny devices have a number etched with lasers that can only be seen with a magnifying tool. The dots come in kits of 400 to tens of thousands. The personal kit of 400 costs $25.

The identifying number must be registered on the DataDot Web site. Once registered, the number is entered into a secure national database. When law enforcement recovers stolen goods, officers can access the property owner’s identity by entering the information listed on the dot.

“We plan on affixing them to various tools on the job site,” said Kelly Bennett, bookkeeper for local construction company Norwegian Wood. “[The owner] was worried about his tools; we’ve seen in the news that lots of tools are being stolen.”

In an interview, the Truckee chief of police said his department has followed the progress of the micro-identification device.

“In the last year or so we’ve had an extensive amount of tools stolen from job sites,” said Truckee Chief of Police Scott Berry. “We’re following the technology as it becomes available. All of my sergeants are aware of this.”

According to Sass, major automobile importers in Australia are spraying each vehicle that they bring in with ten thousand dots each to deter theft.

In that country, Subaru has reported a 92 percent reduction in stolen vehicles, according to a study conducted by the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, a partnership of law enforcement and insurance companies.

Sass said that some insurance companies are even offering lower premiums if drivers glue the dots onto their vehicles.

Though the technology has not caught on to the extent that it has Down Under, Sass said he focuses on strengthening law enforcement participation and involvement.

Sass described the dots as a deterrent and not a foolproof way to stop theft. But Chief Berry said the high-tech dots could help recover stolen goods.

“The best thing would be to put a driver’s license on every tool, but that could cost construction companies lots of money,” Berry said. “[The dots are] just another tool that we can use to help get the property back, and that’s a good thing.”

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