Protecting your electronics from thieves

HOUSTON The FBI says theft of electronic goods is up 285 percent over the last few years, so if you have any electronics in your home, take a few minutes to protect yourself.

As electronics keep getting smaller they become bigger targets for thieves. Leonardo Bernal was a victim last month.

"My BluRay, DVD player, everything, my mom's jewelry, all that stuff and it was worth, everything about $4,900," he said.

Bernal knows what is missing, but getting it back if his stuff is recovered by the police will not be easy.

"I did not have serial numbers, none of that, I did not have receipts," Bernal admitted. "But now after I start buying stuff I am going to keep the receipts, keeping serial numbers."

Houston police have a property room full of stolen stuff that has been recovered but it will likely never get returned to the rightful owners because those owners did not take basic steps.

HPD Captain Rick Bownds advised, "Everyone needs to record all the serial numbers and good descriptions of everything you have, especially the easily stolen types of things like electronic devices, things like that."

Captain Bownds runs the Houston Police Department's burglary and theft division. He says engraving a driver's license number into your electronics virtually guarantees stolen stuff will find you fast.

"Especially if it is clearly marked as a Texas DL, Texas Driver's License number, we can instantly run it through the computer and get it back to the rightful owner," Captain Bownds explained.

Even if you have a home inventory and homeowner's insurance, be prepared for a smaller than expected settlement.

Monica Russo with the Houston Better Business Bureau said, "Most policies only offer actual cash value. If you bought a TV for $1,000 five years ago, they are not going to pay you what you paid for the TV. They are going to factor depreciation and pay you what the TV is worth today."

If you have a home inventory, it can help speed up the claims process. This sounds like a lot of work, but the Texas Department of Insurance website an inventory ready for you.

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