Auckland- A website designed to reunite burglary victims with their stolen property aims to put a dent in the black market.
Stole Me, started on Monday, is a free, non-commercial national register of stolen property and pets.
Its business development manager, Tauranga accountant Angela Thomas, hopes it will increase the recovery of stolen items and ultimately reduce trading in illegally acquired goods.
Police have applauded the initiative, also backed by groups including Crimestoppers and the New Zealand Insurance Council.
Ms Thomas said the website was inspired by a Bay of Plenty couple who found reaching out to the public proved difficult after their boat was stolen a year ago.
“They really wanted their boat back and reported it to the police but were wondering how the fact could become more public,'' she said.
“It's a great opportunity for people who want to get their stolen items out there - we see it as a national database and want to get that critical mass behind it.''
Goods listed are categorised from antiques and computers to vehicles and pets and users have the option of offering reward money.
Anyone considering buying second-hand goods can also use the site to ascertain if the items have been previously listed as stolen.
Ms Thomas said Stole Me fitted the police's prevention-first approach and alongside Crimestoppers, stolen boat and vehicle databases and Operation SNAP - encouraging people to record property serial numbers on an electronic database - presented a united front against burglaries and the trade of stolen property.
“We want to work together with the likes of Trade Me and shops that are trading second-hand goods.''
Police crime prevention national manager Superintendent Bruce Bird said the police stolen vehicle database had been extremely well received since it was launched this year, garnering more than 260,000 vehicle searches.
“I'm sure the online community will welcome the service that Stole Me provides.''
Insurance Council of New Zealand spokesman Terry Jordan said burglary and property theft cost New Zealand insurers $240 million a year.
“Initiatives like the Stole Me website can play a part in helping reduce the size of insurance payouts from such criminal activity, benefiting policyholders and insurers alike.'' - The New Zealand Herald
ON THE WEB stoleme.co.nz