2016-04-20 / Front Page

Transit Police Offer Free ‘Gadget’ Etching

By Liz Goff

Queens Transit cops are offering straphangers a weapon in the war on thugs who snatch electronic gadgets on subways and buses.

The program gives bus and subway riders the opportunity to register Smart Phones, iPhones, iPads, tablets, cell phones, Blackberries and other small electronic devices with the NYPD, police officials said.

Under the program, Transit cops use a solvent to tag the items with a registered number that investigators can use to link the device with its legal owner, police said.  Materials used in the program can only be seen with an infrared light that is only available to law enforcement, NYPD officials said.

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

The program is similar to the NYPD “VIN-Etch” program, where 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 owner.

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. Under that program, police at local precincts loaned etching tools to individuals and civic organizations to perform the process on their own.

Queens Transit Police officials said the free service is available at Transit Bureau offices in all five boroughs.

Queens straphangers can register their devices at the NYPD Transit District 20, Queens Transit Bureau Headquarters located at Queens Boulevard and Main Street in Kew Gardens. .

For information on how, when and where you can register your electronic gadgets call the NYPD Transit District 20 Community Affairs officer at 718-558-5400.

For information on other NYPD etching programs call the Crime Prevention officer at your local precinct.

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