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Police Blotter

Stolen Property Guide

March 13, 2017 2:21 PM


Stolen property guide


Serial numbers:

  • MPD has a person assigned to "leads on line" she monitors pawn shops for stolen property. Serial number searches leave little doubt of ownership.

  • Serial numbers allow us to enter your property into NCIC (a nationwide data base for police). If you recover your property call the police back to cancel the report and we will then remove the entry from the computer.

  • If you don't have your serial number you may be able to contact your point of purchase to see if they have it in their records.


    Pictures of the stolen items also help in locating and identifying your property.


    Personal investigations:


    MPD does not have the ability to monitor social media web sites to search for your property. We do encourage you to try. (Personal note- I retrieved my stolen bike five years after the theft).




    If you believe that you have found your stolen property:


  • Contact MPD (if it is Madison) and ask for an officer to respond. The call taker in the 911 center will ask a few clarifying questions. MPD's "calls for service" triaged.  If at the time you call us and an emergency is happening elsewhere your request will be placed in queue, you may have to wait a bit.

  • Have a copy of your "self report", the case number and this email available to show the officer when they arrive. This will speed up the process considerably, reduce confusion and increase the likely hood of a positive outcome.

  • Have the internet listing of the stolen property available to show the officer.

  •  The MPD officer will work with you to try to get the person "selling" your property to meet with the promise of purchase. The officer will problem solve the situation and create a solution. The officer will not want to allow you participate in the undercover buy.

  • Sometimes we don't get positive outcomes- the bad guy doesn't show up, sometimes the property only looked like yours, and sometimes we can't prove it is yours.

  • If we get the property back, in most cases, MPD will turn it over to directly.

  • Developing probable cause to arrest the person in possession of your property is different in every case.


    Please Don't:

  •  Don't arrange a "buy back" on your own. Bad guys all too often take this opportunity to rob you at point of contact. Let the police handle it. If you buy or sell anything online, meeting at a police department parking lot for the exchange is a good way to increase safety. It is also a good way to sift out fraudulent sellers. 

  • Don't pay a "finder's fee" for a lost cell phone. Call us and let us get your phone back for free.


  • Record the serial numbers of the items of value.
  • Consider taking pictures of the serial number and storing them in multiple locations (the cloud can be a good spot).
  • It would be optimal if you could have the serial numbers available during your primary report with the MPD officer.
  • Consider tracking (GPS) apts for phones and laptops.
  • Back up all important data to any of the long term storage options so if you lose a device you can at least keep your data, pictures, music and contacts.


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