Data Dots are very small (100 times smaller than a dime) spots that you paint onto a small section of something you own. The dots are invisible except under UV light, and can be read with a regular magnifying glass.
You paint the dots onto your laptop or cell phone in a place where they won't easily rub away, such as inside the battery compartment. Your dots contain a unique numberic identifier, which you register online at the company's website.
Add a sticker that reads "protected by DataDots" and the police know that they are supposed to shine a black light over the stolen goods to find the dots then examine them under a magnifying glass. They go online -- the Web site is right on the dot -- and type in the number to get your contact information.
Whether the protective step actually works or not is unclear because the company does not mention any success stories. Then again, it's a fairly new idea.
The sticker that says "protected by DataDots" may be as valuable as the dots themselves - after all, it's easier to discourage burglars than it is to foil them.
You can buy Data Dots for about $30.