DNA mist to com­bat dairy rob­beries

Otago Daily Times - - General - BRIT­TANY KEOGH

WELLING­TON: More than 50 New Zealand dairies which po­lice fear could be tar­geted by armed rob­bers are set to have ‘‘DNA’’ mi­cromist spray in­stalled.

The spray, which can be used to iden­tify of­fend­ers, is part of a $1.8 mil­lion po­lice anti­rob­bery ini­tia­tive.

The Selec­taDNA spray con­tains a unique chem­i­cal that links of­fend­ers to crime scenes.

It is among three tech­nolo­gies po­lice are co­fund­ing with dairy own­ers whose shops have been iden­ti­fied as vul­ner­a­ble to armed rob­bery.

The Otago Daily Times ear­lier re­ported four busi­nesses in the south­ern re­gion, in­clud­ing two in Dunedin, were el­i­gi­ble for the ini­tia­tive.

There has been a spate of ag­gra­vated rob­beries of dairies and petrol sta­tions in re­cent months where of­fend­ers have tar­geted cig­a­rettes and cash.

Charges have been laid against 1283 peo­ple this year, but fig­ures specif­i­cally for dairies were un­avail­able.

Po­lice will pay half of the cost of the mi­cromist spray and two other se­cu­rity mea­sures, fog can­nons and sound bar­ri­ers. The shop’s owner will fund the other half.

The spray, pro­duced by SLS Se­cu­rity Group, is ‘‘non­con­fronta­tional’’.

It is ac­ti­vated by the shop­keeper when the of­fend­ers are in store.

As the rob­bers leave, they are sprayed with a so­lu­tion that is vir­tu­ally invisible to the naked eye, but turns bright blue un­der UV light.

The so­lu­tion stayed on tis­sue such as hair and skin for up to two weeks and on cloth­ing that was put through a wash­ing ma­chine for up to six months, SLS Se­cu­rity Group di­rec­tor David Mor­ris­sey said.

It also stuck per­ma­nently to items such as a weapon that might not be cleaned thor­oughly.

‘‘We need a size of a pin­head of that so­lu­tion to ir­refutably put the of­fender at the crime scene,’’ Mr Mor­ris­sey said.

Po­lice na­tional pre­ven­tion cen­tre man­ager Su­per­in­ten­dent Eric Tib­bott said the co­fund­ing scheme was one of the first stages in a po­lice ini­tia­tive to pre­vent armed rob­beries of dairies.

‘‘For me, what con­cerns is the level of vi­o­lence. It’s gone be­yond shoplift­ing.

‘‘Th­ese ag­gra­vated rob­beries . . . knives, firearms, all sorts of offensive weapons are be­ing used to threaten dairy own­ers and then it’s the wan­ton vi­o­lence of th­ese in­di­vid­u­als.’’

Staff from the po­lice crime pre­ven­tion team had iden­ti­fied nearly 200 dairies that met cer­tain cri­te­ria which made them vul­ner­a­ble to armed rob­beries and el­i­gi­ble for the co­fund­ing ini­tia­tive.

Shops that had been tar­geted in armed rob­beries be­fore, as well as those in ar­eas where crime was on the rise, were among those at risk and were of­ten el­i­gi­ble.

Po­lice had ap­proached shop own­ers and 54 had opted in so far.

Each would re­ceive the Selec­taDNA spray, a fog can­non that re­leased up to 700cu m of fog within 60 sec­onds, mak­ing it al­most im­pos­si­ble to see any­thing and sound bar­rier de­vices that omit­ted four dif­fer­ent fre­quency mod­u­la­tions at 125 deci­bels that con­fused of­fend­ers as the hu­man brain could only deal with two fre­quency mod­u­la­tions at a time. — NZME

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