Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer An addition to home security plus a lost and found

A Des Moines-based startup company has created a modern-day lost and found that can save money while helping law enforcement. modernizes operation identification—a citizen’s burglary prevention program that has existed for over 30 years—which allows law enforcement to detect, identify and return stolen property to its rightful owner.

It’s something Jon Shelness—founder of—first learned about a year ago from a friend in his local Southwestern Hills Neighborhood Association.

Shelness was trying to upgrade their neighborhood watch signs when he saw a sign for operation identification.

“So I did some research and realized that nobody has really migrated this to the web,” Shelness said. “This is a tool that will help people, I’m just making it easy and online.”

How it works

When a customer signs up at, they are charged a one time fee of $29.95 for ten asset tags, stickers and decals. The stickers and decals are to be placed around the house and the asset tags go on cell phones, laptops, passports and anything of value.

“So you are supposed to get into the habit of when you bring something new into the house, put a sticker on, enter the serial number into the database and that’s it,” Shelness says. “You are now marked and registered.”

Each tag provides a good Samaritan with an avenue to return an item they found back to its rightful owner by going to And for law enforcement, it gives them an opportunity to potentially catch a bad guy.

Sgt. Adam Porath of the West Des Moines Police Department said they find having a serial number of specific ID number helps assist police departments in the recovery of items for a variety of cases.

He says he has a list in a lockbox of all his valuable items and a description to include make, model, serial number, value and when they were purchased.

“We encourage people to find their MEID (mobile equipment identifier) number on cell phones, serial number of high dollar electronic items, appliances, lawn mowers and weapons,” Porath said. “If this is stored somewhere secure, on the off-chance that an item does get stolen, it assists us if we would find it later.”

Porath said they would also put that serial number and description of the item into a national database that can be accessed by any law enforcement personnel if it were stolen.

“It is like having a VIN number on a car to identify it.”


It’s like the seatbelt…

Shelness says shouldn’t replace an existing home security system, but be an addition to it.

“People put up the “we support the police signs” or blue tape, but if you really want to help the police, make solving burglaries easier,” Shelness says. “Because they can’t do it without you.”

He uses the analogy of the seatbelt when describing his product.

“It’s not high-tech and they say the guy who invented that saved a million lives,” Shelness says. “So I’m trying to be the guy who is trying to save a billion dollars.” An addition to home security plus a lost and found | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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