Imagine a thief has broken into your home or business premises. They will target your most valuable items first – PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones, anything they can sell on quickly. However, if each valuable item they come across is marked with a synthetic DNA solution – a unique formula of DNA, UV tracer and microdots - and is displaying a warning sticker, then the chances of the thief stealing it drops dramatically. James Brown, Managing Director of Selectamark Security Systems Plc and Chairman of the BSIA’s Asset and Property Marking Section discusses the benefits of DNA forensic marking in helping to reduce crime.
Criminals know that DNA is the police’s most powerful weapon in convicting criminals; therefore, the DNA fear-factor is highly understood and acts as a huge deterrent. Criminals view items marked with DNA as too high risk and are further put off from stealing them as they have little or no resale value. Using synthetic DNA to mark your property is the ultimate theft and burglary deterrent.
Also, by prominently displaying deterrent warning stickers in your windows at home and work, thieves don’t even want to risk breaking into your property in the first place. A highly successful crime reduction campaign using DNA property marking to protect household assets helped Cheshire Police record the biggest drop in burglaries in England and Wales in 2015/16.
Operation Shield is thought to have contributed significantly to a 19% year-on-year fall in burglaries – with an estimated 1,300 fewer victims and a saving to victims of more than £2.5m in a seven-month period alone. Few things are more frustrating to a police officer, than to have to return stolen property to a known thief because the true owner of the property cannot be traced. Effective forms of property marking enable the Police to return the property to its rightful owner, and to make an arrest.
In another scheme, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) reduced burglary by 83% in a local crime hotspot area. GMP said DNA forensic marking had not only significantly reduced burglary, but its use helped increase public confidence in local police and brought the community closer together. However, property marking by itself won’t necessarily prevent a theft from happening - although it can act as a significant deterrent to most thieves. It has already helped reduce theft of assets and equipment from many businesses and homes.
Merseyside Police were behind the successful Operation Aquila in 2014, which used property marking to protect assets in crime hotspot areas in Liverpool, with the result that business robberies dropped by 62% and domestic burglaries across the targeted areas fell by 40%. Forensic marking has also been successful in many sectors including healthcare; there were no reported thefts of portable medical items such as ECG recorders and defibrillators at seven hospital sites belonging to the University College London Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust over a three year period (2011-14) following the introduction of a scheme using DNA marking.
Every year theft and burglaries across all sectors continues to cost the UK’s industry millions of pounds. However, property and asset marking solutions are truly making a difference and helping police, communities and businesses to reduce crime and protect assets - all with the added bonus that they are very simple to use, low cost and highly effective.