Knowing the serial number for your TV, computer or tablet will come in handy if it’s ever stolen, but how many of us take the time to locate the number and write it down? The Des Moines startup My Property ID Registry hopes to simplify the process with stickers and an online database to list your devices.
How My Property ID Registry works
My Property ID Registry founder Jon Shelness took the inspiration for his company from the Operation Identification Program, which started more than 30 years ago. OIP encourages people to put an identifying mark on property or valuables to discourage theft and make them more easily traceable. There’s no standardization or online component for OIP, but Shelness hopes that My Property ID Registry could help fulfill that.
My Property ID Registry provides customers with durable numbered stickers, similar to the registration tags that go on license plates (which are very difficult to remove). They can be placed on phones, computers, tablets, power tools or anything of value. The owner then enters a description for that numbered item into their inventory on the ID Registry website. If an item is stolen, the owner can provide the registry info to police. If someone leaves their registered phone in a taxi, anyone who finds it can enter the number on the website, which sends an email to the owner.
“About 80 percent of people are honest and will make an effort to return something if they have an easy way to do it,” Shelness said.
Shelness hopes making the stickers colorful and visible on items will also help them serve as a burglary deterrent. In addition to stickers for devices, My Property ID Registry also provides stickers for home and car windows stating that valuable items inside are trackable, akin to signs for home security systems.
“When a home is burglarized, police don’t ask about cameras or alarm systems, they ask if the stolen items were uniquely marked and if you have the serial numbers,” Shelness said. “Those are things they can build a case on.”
My Property ID Registry tags are $35.95 for a set of 10. There are no subscription fees beyond that.
Big business solutions for small businesses and individuals
At any company with a substantial number of devices, there’s usually an entire asset management department to make sure equipment is labeled an accounted for. Shelness wants to provide a similar service to much smaller businesses and individuals.
“My business is for the little guy, college students and their parents who want to make sure their property is protected,” Shelness said. “Mom and pop shops, repair shops, small employers, there are a number of niches this could work for.”
Changing the way people think about protection
Shelness started beta testing My Property ID Registry last year among friends and began taking orders in March. He’s started doing some advertising, and he hopes to grow the company more over the next few months.
Some of his inspiration for My Property ID Registry’s future comes from an unlikely inspiration: soap. In the late 19th century, Lifebuoy Soap pushed the habit of handwashing. It became ingrained in society and soap sales skyrocketed. Shelness hopes people will be ready with ID stickers whenever they open a new electronic device.
“I think it will take a bit of educating people and saying ‘Here’s an option, akin to washing your hands or fastening a seatbelt,’” Shelness said. “I’m giving people a chance to help themselves, help police and maybe reduce insurance rates. In the end it might make society a little better place.”
Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.