Operation Identification program works to prevent theft at UNA

Chief of Police Kevin Gillilan uses an engraving tool to mark objects so they can be easily traced. Students can use the Operation Identification program to secure the owner of their belongings.

Students often have concerns about campus safety. One of those concerns is burglary or theft.

The UNA Police Department implemented a program known as Operation Identification to help prevent this misdemeanor.

“Operation ID is a UNA community burglary prevention program for use in residences, classrooms or offices,” said Chief of Police Kevin Gillilan.

The Operation ID program works as a way of discouraging burglary and theft by marking property with an identifying number if there is not a serial number already found on the object. In order to use it, students may come to the police station in the basement of Keller Hall to request an engraver.

There is no charge to use an engraver, but the item must be returned to the police station within 48 hours. Gillilan also said students may request an officer to engrave their items.

Some items worth engraving are cell phones, bicycles and other athletic equipment, car audio systems, MP3 players and other electronic devices, and musical instruments.

Students should engrave their belongings with their driver’s license number. Using a social security number is dangerous because that number is often associated with financial information, according to the UNA police website.

Identifying property is a big component of theft prevention, Gillilan said.

“Marked property is difficult for a burglar to dispose of,” he said. “It can be traced to the rightful owner with relative ease.”

Students should to be aware of their surroundings as well as secure all bags, backpacks and room keys at all times. Students should also report any suspicious activity happening where they are located at that moment, he said.

“Criminal activity often occurs as a result of opportunity,” Gillilan said. “Taking precautions and guarding our personal belongings reduces our risk of victimization.”

Some Operation ID participants have experienced a dramatic decline in crimes such as burglaries and theft, Gillilan said.

“Although the program has been offered for many years, very few have utilized this service,” he said.

He said he believes students have not used Operation ID because they have busy schedules. Additionally, most items already have an identified serial number.

Gillian said students often do not record the serial numbers of their belongings. This is problematic because if an item is stolen, the victim is unable to give identifiable information to law enforcement.

Operation ID could cause a drop in the rate of unrecovered stolen items at UNA.

“I think it is good to have something like this,” said freshman Paige Lewey. “I hope people who lose their belongings could find it somehow.”

Freshman Ava Carnley said she would use the Operation Identification program. She also said she would not bother an item that is not hers.

“If I found something like a jacket, I would think that someone would come back for it,” she said.

Other students, such as junior Casey Wright and sophomore Nicolette Kilgo, said they would rather not participate in the program.

“I do think it is good to have something like this, but what if there was something like a cellphone found?” Wright said. “I’m not sure if they would actually engrave something on a phone.”

Kilgo said she would not use the program.

“If I just saw a random object, then I would leave it and not think twice,” Kilgo said.

If a student would like to use to Operation ID program, call the UNA Police Department at 256-765-4357 or email [email protected].