Operation Identification (Operation ID) is a crime-prevention strategy designed to capture information about valuables before a property crime is committed. Operation ID works for individuals, homeowners, churches, small businesses and tiny municipalities. It also works on farms, ranches, outbuilding and hunting shacks.

Law enforcement professionals know that detailed information about stolen valuables is vital when investigating property crimes. You just have to look at your stolen-property storerooms to see that lost, missing and stolen (LMS) property is a problem. Law enforcement professionals can help communities by encouraging citizens to use Operation ID as a strategy for solving property crimes.

NOTE: This blog is written primarily as a training module for law enforcement professionals. This is a link to a one-page PDF version of the blog: Operation ID Training Module


The property-crime page of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) has a field for the owner-applied number (OAN)—a globally unique and traceable ID—along with the make, model and serial numbers of lost, missing and stolen (LMS) property. The OAN on the NCIC – My Property ID Registry


The key to the success of Operation ID is to encourage citizens to capture information about their valuables before a crime is committed—the OAN, make, model and serial numbers. This short video by the Plano Texas Police Department explains Operation ID and the OAN: Plano PD Operation ID – YouTube

Operation ID requires a 3-step process:

  • Mark valuables with a traceable ID (OAN)
  • Record the make, model and serial numbers
  • Post warning signs on doors and windows

Operation Identification is endorsed by hundreds of law enforcement agencies and the F.B.I.: Operation Identification Police (bing.com)

The U.S. Department of Justice rolled out Operation ID nationally over 45 years ago: GGD-79-54 Department of Justice Should Explore the Feasibility of a Uniform Identification System for Marking Personal Property (gao.gov)


Operation ID was first developed in 1963 by Chief Everett Holladay of the Monterey Park, California, Police Department to address the growing problem of hubcap theft. Burglary Problem Fact Sheet (ojp.gov)


Jon Shelness is a subject-matter expert on Operation Identification at MPIDR.com. He has a criminal justice background and has been a board member of his neighborhood association in Des Moines, Iowa, since 2013.

Mr. Shelness has presented on Operation Identification to the following groups:

Enjoyed what you read? Share via: