2006-08-09 / Features

NYPD Has iPod Etching Program

Queens Transit cops are offering a new weapon to help in their war on thugs who snatch electronic gadgets from city straphangers.

The "IDs for iPods" program gives bus and subway riders the opportunity to register their tiny tune machines, cell phones, Blackberries and other small electronic devices with the NYPD, police officials said.

Under the program, Transit cops use invisible ink to tag the items with a registered number, officials said. Using the registered number, cops will be able to return items they recover to the owner, officials said.

Invisible ink used in the new, high-tech "IDs for iPods" program can only be seen with an infrared light which is available only to law enforcement, NYPD officials said.

Police sources said the program would also provide prosecutors with valuable evidence in cases where an arrest is made.

The "IDs for iPods" program is similar to the NYPD VIN-Etch program, in which cops use an acid-based solvent to mark undisclosed areas on vehicles and bicycles with an ID number provided by the owner. The number allows cops to trace recovered vehicles and bicycles to their rightful owners.

The NYPD established a system dubbed "Operation Identification" in the 1970s, which encouraged people to etch their Social Security or other personal numbers on valuables at their home or office. Police at local precincts loaned etching tools to individuals and civic organizations to perform the process.

Queens Transit Police officials said the free service is available at Transit Bureau offices in all five boroughs, or at tables established at stations throughout the subway system.

Queens straphangers can register their iPods and other electronic devices at Queens Transit Bureau Headquarters, located at the Union Turnpike station in Kew Gardens.

For information on how and where to register electronic gadgets at subway stations in Queens and throughout the City, call the Queens NYPD Transit Bureau at 718-2438658. -Liz Goff

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