New website to help people relocate stolen goods
A close friend who had his farm and business burgled within weeks of one another led one enterprising man to set up a free online database of stolen and recovered property.
Founder Ivan Sheridan, said when his friend fell victim to the burglaries he saw the difficulties he encountered trying to recover equipment and property items.
As a result www.theftfinders.ie was created just a few short weeks ago.
Ivan explained: “My friend had placed some distinguishing paint marks on some of his farm machinery and implements and some of these were recovered after he contacted gardai when he spotted them for sale online.
“He hadn’t been as diligent where his business is concerned and nothing taken in that break-in was ever recovered. I also saw again and again how gardai struggle to get caches of stolen property back to its rightful owner when they make big hauls.”
From the village of Kells in Kilkenny, the father of three and entrepreneur who “never backs away from a challenge,” worked as a carpenter for several years, followed by a time working in construction, owning a pub and tour operator, so he has seen at first hand security issues around businesses, homes and farms nationwide.
More than 2,000 thefts on farms are reported to the Gardai every year. Yet latest statistics show that the true incidence is far higher as, as much as 45pc of agricultural crimes go unreported. Nearly half of farms have experienced theft at some stage and only eight per cent of stolen assets are ever recovered.
“Many rural communities and farmers in particular have been hit by criminal gangs over and over again. I want to help farmers recover items quickly and also want to encourage them to note markings and serial numbers etc. That way, items can be better reported to the gardai and to insurance companies.
“Unfortunately one in four of us will be the victim of a theft or break-in over our lifetimes and seven out of every ten robberies, thefts or burglaries go unsolved and items are never recovered.
"The site works the very same as Done Deal. You post a picture, if you have one, details of the goods, any distinguishing marks, serial numbers etc. It's totally free.
“The site includes farm machinery, animals, tools, and trailers, construction equipment, farm animals as well as other everyday items such as bikes, sports, jewellery, pets and musical equipment and more.
“If a member of the public spots something for sale which they suspect is stolen property and it matches the description of an item on our site, they can report it to the owner by simply pressing the ‘Report as Seen’ button. This notifies the owner of the exact location of their property in real time.
“This is an invaluable resource in the event of items being stolen. And if machinery or other stolen goods are later recovered, farmers will be able to prove to the Gardai they own them as they have a correct log.”
The site, financed by Ivan from personal savings, also helps people who have experienced burglaries report their theft to a wider audience.
“It hopefully will help people unwittingly buying stolen goods they shouldn’t be. It will also hopefully prevent the resale of these goods.
“I hope it will help gardai identify property and spur people to take a note of what they have in their garages, their sheds or in their homes so they can make a clear report to them and their insurance company if their home or property is struck by criminals.
Theftfinders.ie also includes an asset management section which allows members of the public to create their own database of property they own, listing serial numbers, distinguishing markings and photos.
The site allows people to transfer their items from the asset management section to the stolen section, in the event of a theft. A fee of €1 per item applies to this section.
Ivan said the reaction from Gardai, farming community and other businesses to the website has been very encouraging and positive. “We're hoping to work closely with the Gardai and list the €2.5m worth of stolen goods they have recovered and help get them back to their rightful owners."
The entrepreneur also aims, once the site is more established, to set-up a similar service in the UK and eventually to the wider EU.
“Due to so much property stolen in Ireland ending up for sale in the UK, it is only natural that we would venture into there. Once we're established there, we hope to bring Theftfinders to all of Europe.
The Kilkenny man said he was surprised that nothing like this was set-up before.
“A few Facebook sites help people find lost items but there didn’t seem to be anything extensively dedicated to lost and recovered equipment. But yes, I am surprised someone hasn't set up this before.
“My own experience of watching a friend go through the trauma of two thefts was the nudge I needed to get it up and running.”
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