Public-private sector partnership brings high-tech theft prevention tool
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- The swipe of a pen with ink invisible to the naked eye could be a big help in solving theft crimes, local law enforcement said.
CopDots is the newest tool property owners can arm themselves with against thieves, said Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar.
"We support this program 100 percent. It truly is a remarkable and innovative idea for solving crime in Indian River County," Sheriff Loar said.
Microdots with uniquely coded information are transferred onto personal property using a CopDot marker acting like a DNA stamp. The microdots can be read by law enforcement using specific readers, all given to law enforcement for free, said Shawn Andreas, CopDot president and developer.
Each applicator-pen can be registered in a secure database accessible by law enforcement, and possibly one day by pawn brokers, Mr. Andreas said.
Once an item, whether a phone, gaming system, laptop or even jewelry, is marked with the CopDot device, as long as it is not kept in direct sunlight, the microdot, or DNA tag, will remain on it indefinitely.
If a marked item is stolen, and a law enforcement officer comes into contact with it, he or she can run the DNA marking in the database to trace the item to its owner, giving law enforcement a better case for prosecution.
"This is a chance to fight back against property crimes," Mr. Andreas said.
Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse is the exclusive vendor of CopDots in the U.S., and so far the product is in 41 Lowe's stores in Florida, Sheriff Loar said.
Each applicator can mark between 40-50 items and costs $30.
The microdot technology has been around since the 1940s and was used by U.S. military to covertly identify items and carry secret messages, a press release said. More recently, in the United Kingdom and Australia, the technology has been touted as reducing the theft of motor vehicles by as much as 85 percent.
For more information about CopDots, visit www.copdots.com.
For more information about the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, visit www.ircsheriff.org.