Web Site Helps Land Surveyors Recover Stolen Equipment

A general search on Trace.com using the phrase "Leica total station survey equipment" yields a mix of relevant results.


Trace.com, the online database of stolen goods used internationally by law enforcement, auction houses, second-hand retailers and the general public−including land surveyors−will be providing nationwide coverage in the United States this summer.

“Trace.com was created to give law enforcement and the general public a free and easy-to-use system to help reclaim stolen property and catch criminals,” said Ken Bouche, vice president of Trace.com. Through Trace.com, users can register items that have been lost or stolen, improve their chance of recovery and protect themselves from unknowingly buying or trading in stolen goods.

Bouche, a former Illinois State Police colonel and chief information officer, encourages land surveyors to take a proactive two-step approach to protecting their equipment. “Make sure that you know what items you have, and, two, make sure they get put into the Trace database if they’re lost or stolen,” he said.

Operating in Europe since 2004--primarily for the fine-art world--Trace.com has expanded to include a wide variety of stolen, lost, seized and recovered items, including surveying equipment. The company entered the U.S. market in November 2007 with the launch of a pilot program in Texas. Collaboration with the Texas Department of Public Safety and approximately 600 Texas law enforcement agencies made Texas’ stolen property files available to the general public for free. Since February, the Trace.com Texas pilot has registered approximately 6,000 searchers, receives about 4,000 monthly visitors and contains listings of hundreds of various land surveying equipment, Bouche says.

A search for an exact serial number produces detailed information and allows the searcher to instantly alert police.

While the pilot program has primarily benefited those in Texas, Trace.com’s goal is to expand the database to cover the entire United States. In December 2007, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services advisory board voted to put FBI national records into the Trace.com database. “We’ll have national records from every police department--unless they choose to exclude their records--probably by summer,” Bouche said. Based on the hundreds of listings for surveying equipment currently in the Trace.com database, Bouche said he expects to see thousands of surveying items on Trace.com once the national data is launched.

In addition to the police reports supplied by the FBI, members of the public can enter stolen goods using the Citizen Report-it Stolen (CRS) function once they file a police report and have received a valid--and verifiable--police report number. To protect users, Trace.com accepts information on stolen items only, not on the victims. Database records are limited to information needed only to identify items, the law enforcement agency that took the police report, stolen property identifiers and additional information desired by individual law enforcement agencies. “We never want to associate victims or owners and property,” Bouche said. “We also don’t want fences (resellers of stolen goods) to have the capacity to use our database to check to make sure their item is clear so they can go sell it.” To prevent criminals from abusing the database, all searchers are identified via registration, and when a searcher enters a serial number of a stolen item listed on the site, an alert is sent to the police agency that reported it stolen.

Members of the public can search the database for stolen or lost items using a word, serial number, image or advanced search option. Law enforcement agencies, in turn, search the database after recovery of stolen property to determine who reported the item stolen. According to Bouche, stolen property often ends up in a property shop at a police department where it sits for a year before it is sold at auction. “If the item is in Trace and if the police department puts in that they are searching for an item or that they’ve recovered an item, it [the database] will also notify the police department that it was reported stolen to,” Bouche said. “It really dramatically increases your chance of getting your property back.”

For further information, visit www.trace.com.

Russian Space Agency Seeks to Double 2009-11 Glonass Budget

The Russian Space Agency (RSA) requested 2009-11 federal budget funding be doubled for the Glonass satellite program, according to a March report by the Itar-Tass news agency.

As of April 9, 2008, 14 Glonass satellites are operational and two are in maintenance, according to the RSA Information-Analytical Centre Web site. Agency plans call for 18 Glonass satellites to provide complete coverage of Russian territory and 24 for full global coverage.

Originally, the Glonass constellation of 24 satellites was scheduled for completion by 2012. However, President Vladimir Putin’s emphasis on accelerating the program has led to the possibility of full-scale deployment by the end of 2009, according to GPS World. “We shall surely [have] 24 satellites in a year and a half,” said First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov in Itar-Tass. Glonass is required for social infrastructure within the Russian Federation for all federal users.

RSA satellite launch plans for 2008 include six Glonass-M satellites, three telecom/broadcast satellites, two weather satellites, two manned Soyuz TMA spaceships, five Progress M cargo spacecraft and two Sterkh satellites for the international Cospas-Sarsat search-and-rescue system. Additional space agency plans include further utilization of the Baikonur facilities, development of construction plans for the Vostochnyy space centre and the building of launch sites in South Korea and Guiana, according to a February report by Russian military news agency Interfax-AVN.

The Russian government allocated approximately $410 million for Glonass in 2007 and $430 million in 2008. The estimated 2009 budget is $450 million.

Erratum: In the March column “Back to Basics: The one-minute, one-person peg test,” Figures 4 and 5 on page 53 were reversed. We apologize for the error.

Associate Editor Wendy Lyons compiles “Newsline.” Contact her at lyonsw@bnpmedia.com or 248/786-1620.