Long Island Company's DNA System To Help Police ID London Burglars

STONYBROOK, N.Y., Oct. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- London's police plan is to slash crime in some of the most hardscrabble neighborhoods in the city while cutting costs and while redeploying anti-crime resources. That's a nice trick, say observers who are watching how law enforcement will react as the capital's law enforcement budget has been trimmed even while the pressure to keep London safe is as high as ever.

Fortunately, there's an app for that.

Recently, London's Metropolitan Police Services (MPS) have turned to a Long Island company for a novel approach: an anti-theft technology based on plant DNA. In a trial of the product, provided by Stony Brook-based Applied DNA Sciences, the police have used a marker called DNANet to identify items that thieves love to get their hands on: smartphones, jewelry, the easy-to-swipe consumables that we have lying about the house. Those codes are unbreakable, because, remarkably, they are engineered from botanical DNA.

The DNANet system works like this: if a burglar steals the marked item and is apprehended, the covert DNA-based code will link him to the crime scene, leaving little room for an alibi. The MPS, working with Applied DNA Sciences (and other companies using their own products) have made sure the criminal population is well aware of the gambit by plastering high-crime London districts with posters advertising the DNA anti-theft technology. 

In the eight months since the trial began, burglaries have overall plummeted. Crime has also dropped in neighborhoods bordering the trial area, running counter to the phenomenon police call "displacement."

On a sunny day in Southwark, one borough seeded by the MPS with DNANet, children play beneath a utility pole bearing a sign proclaiming: "DNA-Protected Community." Bob Cummings, a former leader of London's elite anti-crime Flying Squad, and now affiliated with Applied DNA Sciences, points at a nearby car. "It's marked with DNANet," says Cummings. "We hope they are stupid enough to try and pinch it."  

People crowd Southwark's high street, some stopping to read the "DNA Protected" warning sign. One man scans its QR code with a smartphone—the code leads to a website about the program.

Applied DNA Sciences is naturally delighted. Known in the UK thus far for its DNA-based protection of cash in transit, and in the U.S. for its anti-counterfeiting protection of electronics provided to the U.S. military, the company is looking to expand. 

"Our technology is keeping the criminals off balance," says Cummings. "They have no idea what to expect...although the 64 convictions we have in cash transport crimes should worry them a little."

Detective Chief Inspector Iain Raphael, the senior MPS officer leading the trial, said, "The results of the trial at this advanced stage are excellent and provide a strong indicator that the use of the latest technology can assist police in reducing burglaries in a cost-effective manner. In the coming months, we will be completing a detailed analysis of the trial results and take a decision on the future application of such technologies."

Contact: Enrique Briz, Dian Griesel Int'l.  212.825.3210

SOURCE Applied DNA Sciences

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