Make a List, Check it Twice, Then Get Serial Numbers

The last thing most kids want to think about while ripping open their gifts on Christmas morning is the serial number on their goodies, but Mesquite police hope parents think about it.

The storage room at the Mesquite Police Department headquarters has rows of unclaimed bikes, a few flat screen TVs and other items that can't be returned since officers don't know who owns the items.

"We don't have serial numbers to match them up to," said Sgt. Wes Talley. "The serial number is crucial in identifying who it belongs to.  Typically, people buy an item and if it's a large enough item and (they) feel it's important enough, they'll scribble it down on a piece of paper and store it away."

But Talley said those papers can be lost or burned in fires.

The department has started a free service called Serial Number Central, which allows people to enter a serial number and description of items for free. That way, if the item ends up recovered after a burglary, it can be returned back to the owner.

"There are so many items that are the same, or have been manufactured, and without a serial number we cannot put an identification on any particular item," said Talley.

The database is open to residents in any city, but Mesquite police said their department is actively using the database to return stolen items recovered as soon as possible.

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