The last time my house was broken into the police arrested a suspect who was subsequently convicted and sent to jail (albeit for a very short time). What broke the case? I had photographs of the stolen items with serial numbers written on the back. The dim bulb burglar used his ID to pawn the stuff at a nearby pawn shop. A neighbor picked him out of a lineup. Open and shut case.
Without the serial numbers, however, this guy walks. As Sgt. Rich Stahnke of CMPD noted in a recent email to ECA members: "Pawn shops are required to keep a record of who pawned/sold them merchandise and our burglary detectives routinely search through pawn records looking for merchandise that has been reported stolen. The biggest hindrance to this system is the fact that many homeowners cannot provide us with the serial numbers for their merchandise."