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How Alberta RCMP is using ‘micro-pen’ marking technology to reunite stolen property with owners

Alberta RCMP celebrate 1 year of Project Lock Up
WATCH ABOVE: Global Edmonton plays an active part in the city's Crime Stoppers program and on the first Tuesday of every month we'll bring you some great tips to help make the capital region a safe place to live. Joining Global News Morning Edmonton is RCMP Supt. Peter Tewfik.

Alberta RCMP is increasingly relying on technology in its fight against property crime.

On Monday, the organization marked the one-year anniversary of its Project Lock Up initiative, which aimed to reduce targeted and repeated break and enters.

“Obviously it’s early, but I think it’s a success,” Peter Tewfik, the RCMP superintendent for crime reduction strategies in Alberta, said.

According to stats from the RCMP, break and enters have decreased by 4.3 per cent across the province between 2017 and 2019.

“We’re certainly seeing the kind of results we were hoping for,” Tewfik said.

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Along with more traditional crime-reduction methods, like officer outreach programs that see homes examined for weak spots, the RCMP has implemented a trace pen program that is helping to reunite owners with stolen property.

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“It is an innovative way for us to do property marking,” Tewfik said.

The pen — which appears clear once dry — applies micro-dots to property that may be a target for thieves. Owners then register their pen’s unique code with the RCMP that will then allow stolen property to be scanned and identified in a database.

“This is a tool that we are using to effectively reunite stolen property to the owners,” Jennifer Kee, an RCMP community outreach and engagement specialist, said.

“Our aim is not to have detachments with storage areas bursting with property that we can’t reunite with the owners.”

Once dry, the trace pen marking is clear and can be scanned by RCMP to match it with a unique code.
Once dry, the trace pen marking is clear and can be scanned by RCMP to match it with a unique code. Julien Fournier / Global News

The pen is purchased directly by the property owners at a discounted cost of $29.99.

RCMP did not have specific statistics on how many items had been reunited, but said the trace pen program was considered a success and that it has resulted in multiple property recoveries.

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Along with the trace pen, the RCMP is also using data to track what areas of the province need more focus.

All the data is available online, but Tewfik said it is only a successful tool if people report all thefts.

“Sometimes people are frustrated, because they don’t feel the police are doing anything,” he said.

“Even if it doesn’t have an outcome for your particular crime, we’re able to have a better understanding of the crime happening in the area and it actually benefits your community.

“It’s really important to say though — this isn’t a solution, this obviously helps reduce the risk for these property owners, and I think the early results are very encouraging,” Tewfik said.