Operation Identification

Operation Identification is one important step YOU can take in combating burglary and theft. The Louisa County Sheriff's Office conducts the Operation Identification Program as a service to the citizens of Louisa County. This program helps to take the profit out of burglaries and other thefts by making the stolen property easier to identify and harder to sell or put to personal use. Burglars and other thieves thrive on stolen property that can be easily sold because it cannot be properly identified. Recovered property that does not have personalized identification cannot be traced and returned to the owner, and it is difficult to introduce as evidence.

A.D. Fortune, Sheriff of Louisa County


It's as simple as engraving your identifying numbers on valuable property and making an inventory list. If you do not have an engraver or access to one, the Louisa County Sheriff's Office has a limited number that may be loaned out to our citizens. Return the engraver to our office and receive your free Operation Identification window stickers.
Operation Identification Logo
Then you place the provided decals in conspicuous areas to let any would be prowlers in your neighborhood know that you have marked your valuables and are a participant in Operation Identification. This program greatly increases the risk criminals must take to steal your property.

Marking Your Property

If your property does not have a serial number assigned by the manufacturer, you may want to apply an Owner Applied Number (OAN.) We suggest you start your OAN with "VA" to represent Virginia, and then follow with either your driver's license number or another number with personal meaning. Do not use your social security number as a means of identification. If you use your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) assigned Operator License Number, than any law enforcement officer can search the number through our police computer systems and relate it back to the individual with that DMV Operators License Number.

Property That Can Be Marked

Engrave your number in a place that cannot be easily dismantled, where it can be observed easily. Make your number as large as possible, and paint over the grooves you make with fingernail polish or correction fluid to make the markings more visible.

Property That Cannot Be Marked

If the property cant be marked, such as antiques, jewelry, silver, artwork, etc., you should take a Polaroid or digital photograph or videotape it. Write a detailed description on the back of each printed photo, and place these photos with your inventory list in a safe place. Don't store your only copy of your list and digital pictures on the computer, that may also be stolen.

Tips for Using an Electric Engraver

  1. Be sure to engrave the complete Operation Identification number.
  2. Don't put decals on your doors or windows unless you have engraved your valuables.
  3. Identify your property as conspicuously as possible without defacing it. (On some valuables, it's wise to engrave a second number in an inconspicuous spot for added security.
  4. Make a record of the property you mark and keep it in a safe place.
  5. Practice using the engraving tool before you mark your property.
  6. The engraving tool has a depth adjuster. To adjust for hard surfaces, such as metal, adjust the knob to the loudest position.
  7. When engraving, hold the tool in an upright position - not at a slant.

Engraving Possessions

Listed below are some of the most commonly stolen items from homes and businesses:
  • Antiques
  • Bicycles
  • Binoculars
  • CD Players
  • Cameras
  • Carpets
  • Computing Equipment
  • DVD and Video equipment
  • Fish Rods and Reels
  • Furs
  • Glassware
  • Golf Clubs
  • Guns
  • High-value Watches
  • Jewelry
  • Kitchen Appliances (mixers, toasters, etc.)
  • Lawn Mowers
  • Mag Wheels
  • Outboard Motors
  • Paintings
  • Silverware
  • Stereo Equipment
  • Television Sets
  • Tools (hand and power)
  • Vacuum Cleaners
  • Video Game Equipment
  • Watches and Clocks


After marking your property, make a list of your valuables and keep a copy of the list in a safe place. If you should subsequently become a burglary victim, you will be able to quickly describe the stolen property from the list. This will be of great help to the Sheriff's Office, in their attempts to recover the stolen possessions.

Once property has been marked and a list made, display an Operation Identification sticker at doors and windows which might be used for entry. By advertising your participation in Operation Identification in this way, you are announcing that your valuable property has been marked and will be difficult for a burglar to resell. Often the presence of the sticker alone is enough to deter a burglar.

Helpful Reminders

  • Virginia Code provides: "the owner of personal property may permanently mark such property, including any part thereof, for the purpose identification."
  • It shall be unlawful for any person to remove, alter, deface, destroy, conceal, or otherwise obscure the manufacturer's serial number or marks, including personally marked numbers preceded by the letters "VA," from such personal property or any part thereof, without the consent of the owner, with intent to render it or other property unidentifiable.
  • It shall be unlawful for any person to possess such personal property or any part thereof, without the consent of the owner, knowing that the manufacturer's serial number or any other distinguishing identification number or mark, including personally marked with a OAN preceded by the letters "VA," has been removed, altered, defaced, destroyed, concealed, or otherwise obscured with the intent to violate the provisions of this section.