TAKING ACTION: Madison County Sheriff’s Office stresses importance of documenting serial numbers

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - From electronics to firearms, write down the serial numbers on your belongings.

"Just take a piece of paper, write that information down," Lt. Brian Chaffin said. "Put it in a safe place. That way, if it is stolen, or your house is burglarized, or it's taken from your vehicle, you can report it, and we can relate that serial number in our database to you."

The Madison County Sheriff's Office said they find property every day during their assignments or searches. Then, they use serial numbers to try and find the owner.

"Check the serial number through our NCIC database, National Crime Information Center, and if that serial number has not been related to a person, we don't know who it belongs to," Lt. Chaffin explained.

Lt. Chaffin said serial numbers are also crucial in a court case.

"That's evidence; that's firm evidence," Lt. Chaffin said. "Victim of a case where a house is broken into, they want us to do everything we can to solve their case. Well, that one little piece, just that one little piece of evidence with the serial number on it, you know, may help us more than what a victim realizes out here."

Should your firearm wind up in the wrong hands, this documentation helps you avoid the blame.

"The owner can show justification, I didn't possess the gun, the gun was stolen from me," Lt. Chaffin said. "They can have documentation where they reported their gun stolen with the serial number to show that, 'No, I wasn't involved in that violent crime, somebody stole my gun.'"

Insurance companies also rely on this list of possessions for insurance purposes should a fire erupt in your home.