Are your Christmas gifts in danger?

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - It's a typical holiday weekend at a Gautier home.  The family is sitting together, sharing their new gifts.  Like the gifts in many homes, some come with a high price tag.

"This is probably $1,200 item," said Gautier Police Crime Prevention Officer Tommy Fortenberry of a laptop computer.  "It's very valuable."

This family knows that some criminals could want those new gifts too. That's why they've contacted Gautier Crime Prevention Officer Tommy Fortenberry for help.

Officer Fortenberry has already checked out this house to make sure it's safe from break ins. While it would be hard for a criminal to break in, there are a lot of things on this inside of the house that still need protection, just in case the worst should happen.

That's where Mississippi Operation ID comes in. The process is simple.

"Anything that you've gotten for Christmas or anything that you have in your home," says Fortenberry, "on that item, on a place that cannot be removed, put 'MS' and your driver's license number."

Engraving your valuables may seem like a lot of work, but it could help you more than you think in the long run.

"If you have these items that have been marked and you have these in your possession," said Fortenberry, "not only does it help us get these items back to the homeowner, that also enhances our chances of getting a conviction in court on this criminal."

Certain household staples need labels more than others.

"These flat screen TVs are a very high ticketed theft item," said Fortenberry of the family television.  "Be sure and find a place to ID it."

That way it won't become one of the many unidentifiable items in a police department evidence room. Without the ID, you could never get back stolen valuables, even if the police recover it.

"They always think you can come and get fingerprints and do this and do that to get your stuff back, but you know, if it's not marked, then we don't know who it belongs to," Fortenberry said.

Fortenberry also said that valuables that can't be engraved, such as jewelry, can be ID'd as well.  He suggests putting all your jewelry together and taking a picture of it, so if it is stolen and recovered, it can be identified and returned.

Anyone who needs assistance or more information on Mississippi Operation ID can contact the Gautier Police Department at 228-497-2486.