News Archive

DNA Spreads

by msecadm4921

Three areas of Norfolk are being protected with forensic property marking product SelectaDNA.

The rural neigbourhood of Dersingham and Gayton, which includes the royal Sandringham estate, has been affected by a number of residential burglaries over the past 18 months and local police were looking for a solution to deter theft.

The more residential area of Woottons and Castle Rising, which borders Kings Lynn, and the coastal region of Hunstanton and Burnham have also been affected by dwelling burglary and are included in the Home Office-backed Burglary Reduction Initiative. The scheme covering all three areas is being led by Sgt Andrew Crown.

Sgt Crown said: “Norfolk has a relatively low crime rate and was referred to in the Eastern Daily Press as being “the safest county in the country”. Our particular Neighbourhoods in the west of the county experience very few dwelling burglaries and therefore areas that have been affected in the last 18 months were easy to identify.”

He added: “Between January 2008 and May 2009 there were a total of 20 reports of dwelling burglary in 23 villages within the Dersingham & Gayton Neighbourhood. This figure is still too high and we believed that this figure could be reduced further, hence the initiative.”

In part one of the scheme, Community Support Officers visited residents to show them how to mark any valuable household items such as jewellery, TVs, computers and other electronic equipment. Owners of farm properties in Dersingham were shown how to mark agricultural equipment which can be particularly vulnerable when left in outbuildings.

PCSO Gareth Cranstoun, from Dersingham & Gayton police, who is part of the team helping to distribute the SelectaDNA kits, said: “Residents have been very keen to take part in the scheme and they are pleased with the product and the concept behind it."

The kits contain a bottle of the SelectaDNA formula, which consists of an ultraviolet tracer and a unique DNA code. The clear liquid can be applied by residents to any household item to identify it as belonging to their property. If it is stolen and later recovered by police, the item can be scanned by police and traced back to the rightful owner via the DNA marking.

PCSO Cranstoun added: "Although the product is easy to use, it is important that residents understand what they are doing when they use forensic marking so that it is done correctly. Our officers have been helping them with any queries they may have.”

Residents were also encouraged to establish a Home Watch scheme in their local area and were offered support whilst setting these up.

PCSO Cranstoun added: “Residents also need to display the bright orange tamper-proof deterrent stickers supplied with the kit on the windows of their property to indicate to would-be thieves that their homes are protected. This in itself is a massive deterrent, because it will make burglars think twice before entering the property.”

According to Sgt Crown the scheme has been going well. He said: “We are currently working on ‘Phase Two’ which entails visiting all addresses in areas that appear to be more vulnerable than others ie. where repeat offences had occurred and have been identified as ‘hot spots’. When these small pockets of houses have been visited and SelectaDNA kits have been used we have plans in place to erect SelectaDNA signage at the entrances to these areas to warn off potential criminals and thus reduce burglary even further.”

Dagenham anti-burglary

In the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, 1,000 homes in the Valence Park area are being given the chance to mark their valuable personal possessions using forensic property marking system SelectaDNA.

The scheme is part of a joint initiative between the local council and Barking & Dagenham Police and public signs have already been put up in the area to warn potential burglars that properties are DNA protected.

Valence ward has the lowest percentage of reported crime across the borough and local officers are keen to keep it that way. There is a police priority goal to reduce residential burglary across the borough by 2.4pc for 2008/09.

Detective Chief Inspector Ellie O’Connor from Barking and Dagenham Police said: "Opting for property marking is one of many ways that the public can assist police in reducing burglary. Adopting a locking up routine combined with security marking can drastically reduce your chance of becoming a victim of burglary. The police/council partnership intends to make it very difficult for someone to come into your home and take your possessions."

SelectaDNA is a new forensic marking system which can protect personal items of value such as laptops, flatscreen TVs, mobile phones and iPods.

Each kit contains a bottle of the SelectaDNA formula, which consists of an ultraviolet tracer and a unique DNA code. The clear liquid can be applied by residents to any household items to identify them as belonging to their property.

SelectaDNA is easy to apply and when dry, is virtually impossible to remove. It is invisible to the naked eye, but if an item is stolen and later recovered by police, it can be scanned using a UV light and traced back to the rightful owner via the DNA marking.

Tamper resistant stickers are supplied with each SelectaDNA kit to deter criminals away from any marked items. Councillor Jeanne Alexander, Barking and Dagenham Council Cabinet Member for Safer Neighbourhoods and Communities, said: "There has been a lot of media coverage recently about how burglary is on the increase because of the recession. It is vital that we use these products to show that we will not let the borough become a soft touch for burglars."

She added: "The beauty of SelectaDNA is its deterrent value. Burglars know that DNA is helping police convict criminals on a daily basis and that’s why they stay well away from homes and belongings which are DNA protected."

Many anti-burglary schemes across the UK have already been launched using SelectaDNA and it has been proven that by marking belongings and displaying warning stickers, burglary can be reduced by up to 85 per cent.

And across Buckinghamshire SelectaDNA will be introduced by the Buckinghamshire Community Safety Partnership as part of Operation Breaker, Thames Valley Police’s anti-burglary drive.

The Buckinghamshire Community Safety Partnership consists of Thames Valley Police, Buckinghamshire County Council, the four District Councils of Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Buckinghamshire and Wycombe, and other partner agencies.

Thames Valley Police’s Crime Reduction Advisers will be provided with SelectaDNA property marking kits for allocation to identified crime “hot spot” areas. They will also be distributing kits to the elderly and vulnerable, as well as previous victims of burglary, over the next 18 months.

George Wrigley, Superintendent Operational Support for Thames Valley Police in Buckinghamshire, said: “Buckinghamshire is a safe place to live and despite the recession we have seen a slight decrease in burglary of residents’ homes over the past 12 months.

“However, every victim of crime is one too many and that is why we are introducing this new property marking system in Buckinghamshire. By marking their property with it and displaying the appropriate signage, people can significantly reduce their risk of being burgled and we are much more likely to catch and convict burglars.”

Thames Valley Police will be advising residents on how to use the marking kits in their homes. Each kit contains a bottle of the SelectaDNA formula, which consists of an ultraviolet tracer and a unique DNA code. The clear liquid, which contains identifying microdots, can be easily applied by residents to any household item to verify it as belonging to their property.

If suitably marked property such as a laptop, flatscreen TV, mobile phone or piece of jewellery is stolen and later recovered by police, it can be scanned using a UV light and traced back to the rightful owner via the DNA marking.

Introduction of the SelectaDNA scheme is managed by Dave Hartin, Community Safety Co-ordinator for Buckinghamshire County Council.

Mr Hartin said: “SelectaDNA represents excellent value for money and was chosen above other similar products as it already has a proven track record for reducing burglary, in some areas by up to 85 per cent, when used alongside more traditional policing methods.

“Many police custody suites across the UK routinely scan for SelectaDNA and the identifying microdots in the forensic liquid are unique, linking stolen property to offenders and providing strong evidence to support prosecutions."

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