DNA mist to combat dairy robberies
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