Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi wants to slash the city's burglary rate, and he thinks a product new to South Florida will help: CopDots.
It's a pen-like applicator that residents can use to mark up to 50 valuables with a liquid that holds thousands of tiny discs, or dots. The discs are marked with each customer's individual code number and can only be read with a powerful magnifying lens.
"My goal is to be cutting edge on this kind of stuff," Pustizzi said. "It's another tool in the tool box."
Customers register the pen — sold in Lowe's stores for $29.98 — on the CopDots website. The company's database can be searched by detectives looking for stolen goods or by pawn shops that want to verify an item's true owner before a transaction.
The city reported 572 burglaries to the state last year. Pustizzi says his agency's seven-member burglary task force, along with residents' calls about suspicious vehicles and people, have cut break-ins by about 40 percent in the first nine months of 2013.
But he's troubled by incidents in which homeowners' electronics and sentimental keepsakes are pilfered by invaders.
Pustizzi says that between 7 and 9 a.m. weekdays, many of Coral Springs' 123,000 residents commute east and south for work.
"At about 10 o'clock, the bad guys come in and pillage because nobody's home," he said. "We stop guys all the time who might have two televisions in the back of the car. We don't know where the televisions came from, and these guys might not even be from our city."
He says stolen TVs marked with CopDots that may be discovered in someone's vehicle will "lead us to the real owner, and we've got that guy, right then and there."
CopDots supplies the magnifiers free to police officers to read the dots, which can be applied to anything from landscaping equipment to auto parts, jewelry and computers.
It is not a product that parents can use to mark children.
"I've actually had elderly people say they needed to dot their spouse, just in case," said Tina Vaganyi, a CopDots representative who demonstrated the product Tuesday at Coral Springs Police headquarters.
Some South Florida police departments are using another product to combat break-ins — SmartWater CSI, which is from the United Kingdom and also new to the U.S. It marks anyone who handles a sprayed item with a unique, long-lasting fluid that is visible only under ultraviolet black light.
Fort Lauderdale and Riviera Beach police departments each said earlier this year that they arrested people accused of breaking into decoy cars rigged with SmartWater spray.
SmartWater, whose U.S. base is in Fort Lauderdale, requires an annual subscription that starts at $199, according to its website.
Ltrischitta@Tribune.com, 954-356-4233 or Twitter @LindaTrischittaCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun