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Mark your stuff

Putting identification on your belongings could help find them after they've been stolen and fenced.

Here's where to find those invisible-ink markers to fool thieves
Friday, April 15, 2011 07:51 PM
By Doug Caruso
The Columbus Dispatch

When Columbus officials suggested residents mark the copper parts of their air-conditioners with invisible ink to help head off a plague of thefts, they didn't say where to buy the pens.

Locally, markers with ink that shows up only under an ultraviolet light are available for $3.53 at Fastenal Industrial Supplies in Gahanna, said George Speaks, a deputy director in the city's Department of Public Safety.

They're also available through for $2.25 and up.

Some callers to The Dispatch said they had looked all over town for the pens, but were unable to find them.

On Wednesday, Mayor Michael B. Coleman, county Prosecutor Ron O'Brien and the holders of 19 scrap-metal dealer licenses in Franklin County announced 30-day moratorium on buying air-conditioner parts. Police say 437 air-conditioning units have been stolen for scrap metal since November, causing thousands of dollars in damage to churches, businesses and residences.

During the moratorium, they encouraged property owners to mark the copper parts inside their air-conditioners with the ultraviolet pens so that dealers can check for the markings when they resume accepting the parts.

Speaks said people should be careful, because it can be difficult to tell whether the invisible pen is working.

"Many of the pens, you have to shake them," he said. "If you don't shake them per the instructions, it won't work."

Some air-conditioner designs might be harder to mark than others, he said. Hooking the unit to an alarm, enclosing it in a specially designed cage and making sure that thieves have nowhere to hide while they're working can all help deter theft, too, he said.

Fastenal is at 845 Claycraft Rd., Suite I, in Gahanna. The phone number is 614-866-4163. Other Fastenal locations will have the pens by early next week, said district manager Frank Foley.