DNA anti-bur­glary tool causes big drop in crime

Kapi-Mana News - - EDUCATION -

A new DNA tech­nol­ogy should dra­mat­i­cally de­crease the num­ber of thefts from schools in the Welling­ton re­gion af­ter be­ing rolled out in Kapiti by Po­lice Min­is­ter Anne Tol­ley.

Selec­taDNA, an in­vis­i­ble liq­uid with a unique se­quence of DNA in­clud­ing 60 chro­mo­somes in ev­ery bot­tle, was in­tro­duced as a preven­tion method for crimes at schools.

The liq­uid can be ap­plied to lap­tops, mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, tro­phies, or any other at-risk items.

If an item is stolen, po­lice can iden­tify the owner through a DNA test, or by look­ing at a mi­crodot un­der a mi­cro­scope.

At the Welling­ton launch at Kapiti Col­lege, Ms Tol­ley said schools were a tra­di­tional tar­get of crime.

‘‘As schools use tech­nol­ogy more and more on a daily ba­sis . . . th­ese items are very saleable, so they have be­come a tar­get,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s ab­so­lutely heart break­ing when th­ese no-goods come in and steal it. All of that cre­ates an enor­mous range of vic­tims.’’

Selec­taDNA di­rec­tor David Mor­ris­sey said the liq­uid was first used in South Auck­land and helped re­duce crime by about 60 per cent.

‘‘In South Auck­land, when we first did this in 2009, that trial in­cluded three schools, and the over­all trial was 1010 prop­er­ties, ‘‘ he said.

‘‘Over a six-month pe­riod we recorded a 61.8 per cent re­duc­tion in bur­glar­ies.’’

He said it was dur­ing that trial that it was noted that no crime, in­clud­ing thefts and tag­ging, had oc­curred at any of the three schools dur­ing that pe­riod.

By the end of 2012 ev­ery school in the North Is­land was to have Selec­taDNA, and by term three of 2013 ev­ery school in the South Is­land will have a kit.

Early fig­ures show crime de­creas­ing by about 40 per cent at schools with Selec­taDNA.

Mr Mor­ris­sey said that while a crim­i­nal could try to re­move the sub­stance, ‘‘you can’t get it all off’’, and only a small sam­ple was needed to find the DNA se­quence.

Sig­nage is given to the schools as part of the kits, and pre­vents crim­i­nals from try­ing to steal from schools.

‘‘Ev­ery­one knows, no mat­ter who you ask, what DNA is. They know that it is in­dis­putable.’’

Thieves are un­able to sell the items on be­cause they are laced with a trace­able DNA se­quence.

Photo: FAIRFAX

Sticky fin­gers: Kapiti Col­lege stu­dent Tayla Welch, 15, with a Selec­taDNA anti-theft kit.

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