RECENT incidents of theft and vandalism at allotment sites in Hitchin and Letchworth have resulted in hi-tech forensic marking kits being deployed to deter burglars from the area.
Officers from North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) and Hertfordshire police are making use of SelectaDNA, a forensic liquid that has a unique DNA-style code that can be painted onto any items of value such as garden tools and lawnmowers.
If marked property is stolen and later recovered by police, the forensic coding – which is invisible in daylight but shows up under ultra-violet light, can be used to identify the true owner and link a suspect with a crime scene.
The marking kits are being handed out to allotment owners on 13 sites in Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock. The kits also contain high-visibility warning labels and window stickers. If the stickers are displayed prominently, they can also play a part in reducing crime.
Letchworth Safer Neighbourhood Sergeant, Steve Oliphant said: “Used in conjunction with warning signs and stickers, we think this initiative will make thieves think twice before breaking in to steal property that can be easily identified as stolen. We think it’s a great opportunity for allotment holders to make their property and equipment more secure."
The use of SelectaDNA is one of a number of steps that are being taken to combat allotment crimes, and comes after the arrest of three youths for causing criminal damage at Runnalow allotments, Letchworth.
Cllr Ian Knighton, NHDC’s portfolio holder for leisure, said: “Allotment holders should not have to put up with mindless vandalism and theft of their property. We want to do everything we can in partnership with the police to prevent this happening and this DNA liquid has proved to be an excellent deterrent where it has been used elsewhere.”
James Brown, Selectamark's Sales Director, added: "Using SelectaDNA to mark lawnmowers, garden tools and other items of value on allotment sites provides forensic evidence to help police tackle criminal activity.
“The unique DNA code in the product irrefutably links any criminal to the crime scene and gives police the necessary evidence to pursue a criminal conviction in court.
“We fully support this scheme and are confident it will be highly effective."
For further information and images contact: Angela Singleton, Press Officer for Selectamark.
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