Physical Security

Marking deterrent in housing

by Mark Rowe

A housing association is forensically marking its properties as it seeks to tackle metal theft on one of its estates in Oldham. The Regenda Group, which has some 13,000 properties across the North West, is using the property marking product SelectaDNA, as as a deterrent to metal thieves and to give police evidence of theft. Pictured is Neighbourhood Officer Beckie Kirkland forensically marks a boiler at a Regenda resident’s house.

The kit includes a paint which contains a specific DNA code and a series of microdots, which are unique. This is painted onto the surface of metal items such as boilers and pipe work and any valuables, taking a matter of minutes to apply. Once dried, the liquid is invisible to the eye but shows up under ultraviolet (UV) light. If the items are later stolen and found, police can identify the owner by checking the details against their database and link the items directly to a specific crime scene, increasing the chances that the thieves will be convicted.

Chris Dale, Head of Property Services at Regenda said: “Over the past year, ten of our empty properties in Oldham have been targeted by thieves. It is potentially very dangerous, especially where pipes or cabling are taken if gas, water and electricity supplies are left live. Unfortunately metal theft is becoming an increasingly common problem for landlords and local authorities and we are working closely with Greater Manchester Police to crack down on this problem. There isn’t just the risk to our residents to consider – we’ve estimated that it has cost us over £40,000 to replace stolen boilers, rectify water damage from pipes left leaking and to provide secure systems to prevent further thefts. It is also having a detrimental effect on the estate as empty properties now have to be boarded up, damaging the reputation of the neighbourhood.”

The system will be used in Regenda’s properties across Oldham and will be rolled out, street by street, over the next few months. Posters and stickers will be displayed around the estate to raise awareness of the new scheme among residents and to deter potential metal thieves from operating in the area.

The Regenda Group is a leading housing and regeneration organisation, with 13,000 properties across the North West providing homes for more than 25,000 people.

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