POLICE in Essex are using SelectaDNA to mark metal after a series of dangerous gas pipe thefts left buildings at risk of fire and explosion.
Recent crimes include the theft of copper piping connected to external gas meters at properties in Station Road, Clacton. Around £500 worth of metal piping was stolen in one incident and approximately four metres of piping was taken from another building.
PC Grant Fryatt said: “Not only is this a huge inconvenience in terms of the cost of repairs for the buildings’ owners but it is also extremely dangerous. The piping itself was live gas mains and was cut with the gas still turned on.”
Dave Gillies, Tendring’s Crime Reduction Officer, has been advising local residents to get any copper they may have at their homes marked with SelectaDNA to avoid becoming a target for thieves.
SelectaDNA Grease has been specially designed to protect outdoor materials such as lead roofing and copper piping, which are particularly vulnerable to theft. If a thief handles marked goods, the Grease instantly transfers onto his or her hands and clothing. Police can then scan suspects with UV detection equipment to locate traces of the substance.
Mr Gillies said: "If the marked item is stolen and recovered, we can then match the code up to a resident and use it as evidence against an offender.”
He continued: “Thefts of items such as statues, rail track and street lights have also been reported as criminals attempt to sell them for scrap. Quite often, these thieves will pose as workmen and appear to be acting legitimately, but if you have any doubts at all please contact us straight away.”
In another crime reduction initiative in the area, SelectaDNA property marking kits have been distributed to residents of Jaywick, near Clacton, after a series of burglaries hit the seaside village.
Paul Teague, Essex Watch Administrator for Tendring, added: "We’ve been offering SelectaDNA to residents of Jaywick since August. Officers have been visiting homes and helping people sign up to the service. A significant number of properties are now covered.”
He added: “The word ‘DNA’ definitely deters thieves as they don’t really know what they are dealing with.”
For further information and images contact: Angela Singleton, Press Officer for Selectamark.
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