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Deterring Property Theft

Here are some effective ways to deter theft and improve recovery efforts.

Property Identification Labels

At the very least, affix a permanent property identification label on the item. Thieves can easily scrape off printed labels, use chemicals to remove ink, or sandpaper off something you carved onto the item's surface. The best property identifcation labels are aluminum, vinyl or polyester, with aluminum being the preferred material for most situations. These labels get a death-grip on your property with permanent adhesives.

Design an Asset Tag in One Minute

On the Label Print —

Name: Print something like “Property of Fred” or your business name. If you just print “Fred” on the label people might think the computer's name is Fred. Be sure to use the name of the legitimate owner. Printing “Property of the Mafia” on your labels might deter some thieves, but a stolen item might also end up being returned to the wrong people.

Phone: Put your phone number on the label in case the item is recovered by police or another agency.

Website: Listing a website might also assist the item's return. Many services exist which help reunite people with their lost or stolen property. Print their website or the URL of a page on your company's website where good samaritans can go to help return a product.

Reward? Mentioning a reward might expedite recovery. “Reward for recovery” or “Reward for return” gets the message across nicely. Thieves and ransomers want money and the pilfered property tends to be most valuable to its owner. Ya never know if they might call in for a reward.

If the interior of the property is accessible, like the computer's inside, you might put a second property identification label in some hidden recessed area. If thieves manage to remove the outside label or the surface the label is attached to, in the event of recovery you can lay claim to your property by referring to this inner label.


For property like computers which access the internet, software can be installed which silently pings a special website each time it loads. When thieves boot up the computer while online, their IP address is recorded and used to determine the physical address where the stolen property is located.

Similarly, vehicle monitoring services use GPS information to locate stolen vehicles. If your forklift is driven to Timbuktu they'll dispatch a platoon of ex-Marines to intercept.

Guard Dog!

Enlist a German Shepherd dog to protect your property. A rottweiller or doberman will also suffice to prevent burglars from stealing your rolodex.

Lock 'em Up or Bolt 'em Down

Secure your assets to an immovable surface. A six-color Heidelberg press is much more difficult to steal if it’s bolted to the floor. Locking valuables in a safe or security cage is also an excellent deterrent. Use a wheel lock for motorcycles or cable lock for bicycles. Ankle chains for valuable employees will deter competitors from stealing them away with better offers.

Alarm System

These are really just annoying for everybody and since they go off so damn much people just don't care, but it's quite therapeutic to let your property scream as it gets burglarized.

Automatic Return

And finally, measures can be taken to have stolen goods automatically returned. Tie a sturdy elastic rope to an asset to ensure that eventually it will snap back into your possession. Or if all your assets are boomerangs, you don't have to do anything!