Record the Serial Number of Big Ticket Items

No one buys an expensive item and expects to have it stolen (unless they’re committing some kind of fraud). However, you should still take a few simple precautions in the event that one of your prized possessions is stolen. Here are a few simple steps to follow.

Identify Which Items Matter

For me, the items that matter are:

  • Any item that costs more than $1,000.00 (car, guitars, television, computers)
  • Any item that contains my data (mobile phone, netbook)
  • Anything that I will be hopping mad if it’s stolen

Cyclists might have an expensive bike, photographers will probably have a DSLR or two and a few lenses.

Expensive purses, luggage, watches, jewelry and art are a few other things you might want to think of.

Record Key Information

Whatever items you identify as worthwhile, you’re going to want to record the following information:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Color
  • Serial number (MEID or CDMA number for a mobile device)
  • Any other distinguishing features (modifications you’ve made, identifying marks)

The serial number is the most important thing to note.

This is the information you will need to give the police if your possessions are stolen.


Take photos of your items and their serial numbers.

When you photograph a serial number, make sure you set your camera to “macro.”

The photos don’t need to have great composition, they just need to be functional.

If the item looks just like hundreds of thousands of others, like a stock MacBook, you can skip photographing it.

Backing Up the Info

You’re going to want to record this information in a place where you will always be able to access it. A Word doc on your laptop won’t help you if your laptop is stolen.

My solution was making a Google Docs Presentation (Google Doc’s version of PowerPoint), with all of the information. Since Google Docs save to Google’s servers, I will be able to access the information from any computer.

Here’s what one of my slides looks like (the serial numbers are blurred):

Business Equipment

I record the information for computers and devices on loan to me by my employer because I never take for granted that someone else has diligently recorded the information.

Computers & Mobile Devices

Be sure to password protect your computers and mobile phones with a reasonably strong password so that they will be useless to a thief.

Practice safe computing.

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