VIOLENT smash and grab offences are a worrying crime trend that continues to put retail staff at risk as well as members of the public.
The raids, which police say have involved the use of firearms, claw hammers and machetes, have already resulted in £1million worth of goods recorded as stolen this year.
This information was revealed at the recent 'Stop Smash and Grabs' event in London, which was hosted by the Police and Security Group Initiative – an innovative partnership between the Metropolitan Police Service, the independent security sector, and retailers.
Retailers including luxury brand names, jewellery stores, supermarkets and petrol stations are now fighting back by installing a new, hi-tech security system that douses fleeing robbers with an invisible, synthetic DNA solution.
Designed as a deterrent to robbery and smash and grabs, the SelectaDNA Spray system, developed by security company Selectamark, contains a forensic solution unique to each location. This means that criminals are able to be linked to the scene of a crime.
Consisting of spray heads that can be fitted above windows and doors of premises, the system is triggered as an intruder enters the property. The system emits a fine mist of SelectaDNA solution onto the offender that stays on the skin for weeks and is only visible under an ultraviolet light. The solution contains a UV tracer and a unique DNA code, linking intruders irrefutably to the crime scene.
Jewellery stores have seen a significant reduction in robberies thanks to the new spray system. A number of independent jewellery shops in Lancashire are being protected from smash and grab raids thanks to the Lancashire Partnership Against Crime, by using the DNA Spray, which can be integrated into an existing shop alarm system or as a stand-alone system with its own panic button.
Warning signs and window stickers are supplied to alert potential criminals that the system is in use and to dissuade them from targeting the protected premises.
James Brown, Managing Director of Selectamark, said: “The jewellery stores are on busy high streets and stock high quality diamonds and custom-made jewellery including expensive watches. The fact that there have been no break-ins or attempted break-ins since the systems have been in place is excellent news for the shop owners.”
He added: “Activation of the system is not the goal, but rather to make would-be criminals think twice. However, if an offender was sprayed with the forensic mist, and the case went to trial, there is irrefutable evidence to ensure conviction. This is why SelectaDNA is such a strong deterrent, and there is nothing else on the market which compares to it. Other systems can help make robberies and burglaries difficult, but only DNA can link a criminal to a crime scene.”
SelectaDNA Spray has also been successfully deployed in Europe, Australia and New Zealand to protect banks, jewellery stores, retail outlets, warehouses, and other premises to protect valuable stock and assets.
A group of pawnbrokers in Sweden is using the system after a review was undertaken to look at better ways to protect their valuable stock, which includes jewellery, clocks, watches and antiques. There has also been success using SelectaDNA in upmarket jewellery stores in France.
In the Netherlands, a crime reduction initiative in Rotterdam was introduced involving 30 shops including luxury boutiques and high-end jewellers that were protected with the spray. During the pilot scheme, there were no robberies reported at these stores, and an overall reduction in robberies of 65% in the areas where the sprays were installed.
Luxury retailer Louis Vuitton is also using the spray. The company has deployed the hi-tech spray system to successfully protect delivery areas in depots in the north of England.
James Brown said: “SelectaDNA gives shopkeepers and retailers added protection and peace of mind. If the worst should happen and a robber enters the premises by force, they will be sprayed with the DNA which links them instantly to the crime scene.
“However, as the SelectaDNA warning signs act as a highly effective deterrent it is extremely unlikely that any offender target ‘DNA-protected’ shops. Criminals fear DNA technology more than anything else.” he warned.
For further information and images contact: Angela Singleton, Press Officer for Selectamark.
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