Getting your stolen items back

LAWTON, Okla._Someone breaks into your home or car and takes your valuables, how do you get it back once the thief has been caught?

Lawton police arrested five people Monday and recovered thousands of dollars in stolen goods. Now the process of getting those stolen items back to their rightful owners can start. Captain Craig Akard of the Lawton Police Department explains having serial numbers or identifiable marks plays a huge role in this process.

"If someone has their home burglarized and [they] file a report, serial numbers and identification marks/scratches, etc. are notated on the report. In the case like yesterday, if items are recovered then they are logged into property and once the serial numbers are entered then they will be flagged if they match a number already entered as stolen," Capt. Akard explained in an emailed response.

Property clerks check the serial numbers on TVs, game consoles, radios, etc. against a list of items that have been reported stolen. Knowing your item's serial number can hasten the process and get your stolen items returned.

If a serial number isn't listed, property clerks check the description from the police report. If a match is made, the owner in contacted. If police are unable to make a match from the listed description, the original owner is asked to provide some sort of identification, like a photo or a possible marking on the item.

Once the owner is identified, police say most of the property is photographed for evidence purposes and then given to the owner.

"However, there are times when the prosecutor wants us to keep certain items to actually bring to court, but that is a case by case basis and rarely done anymore. If that is the case, the owner gets the property back after court," Capt. Akard explained.

You're advised to keep a list of serial numbers and photograph what you own. That information can help police return your property to you.