NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In conjunction with the launch of Apple’s new iPhone 5, the New York City Police Department is rolling out its own campaign to help smart phone users protect their new purchases.

Officers will be on hand at 21 stores — including Apple, Verizon and AT&T — throughout the five boroughs on Friday as part of Operation ID.

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The program is free to the public and helps police trace lost or stolen property.

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports

New Yorkers can bring their portable electronic devices to the stores and have them registered by the NYPD.

Officers will log the serial number of the device along with the owner’s name and contact information. Items can also be engraved with a unique serial number.

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New iPhone owners will also be instructed in how to install and activate “Find My iPhone” technology that is helpful in recovering lost or stolen iPhones.

The valuables can also be registered at any time at any police station.

Earlier this year, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the thefts of Apple gadgets has become such an alarming trend that it’s been dubbed “Apple Picking.”

“There is a disproportionate amount of thefts of iPhones and phones in general,” Kelly said. ”Mostly iPhones, iPads, that sort of thing.”

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