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Case Studies

Property marking

West Midlands Police are offering householders a property marking product. Officers are marking jewellery, games consoles, iPads and other valuables with SelectaDNA. It’s colourless, invisible, doesn’t wash off and glows under ultraviolet (UV) light, so that police can identify stolen property and tie thieves to crimes.

The product, which contains a unique code, doesn’t damage the marked items and is applied in seconds. Details of the code are then registered on a secure national database so that if valuables are stolen from a house and then recovered by police, they can be traced back to the rightful owner. While burglary rates across Dudley are down, research by the Office for National Statistics shows generally that once burgled, homes are more likely to be targeted again with some reports suggesting that this could be as little as seven days after the original crime when burglars believe valuables may have been replaced and homes are still unsecure. In the first phase of the scheme, neighbourhood officers have been visiting victims of burglary and marking valuables. Detective Sergeant Matt Nightingale, who is leading the borough-wide initiative, said: “Taking burglars off the streets is a priority for us and we are keen to exploit every avenue that could help us solve this kind of crime – as well as helping to better support victims in their hour of need. It’s not only past victims we are hoping will take advantage of the scheme. This is a fantastic deterrent and we hope that many more people will ask local officers to visit and mark their property.”

Police officers routinely check for marked items when undertaking house searches of people arrested on suspicion of burglary. When brought into custody, suspects are also walked under ultraviolet lamps to check if traces on the solution can be found on their clothes and body.

Det Sgt Nightingale added: “As part of a wider blitz on burglars our approach should help to reassure vulnerable people as well as acting as a deterrent to would-be offenders and help us reunite stolen items with their rightful owner. The scheme is on a first come first served basis but it is not only ideal for homes at risk but also churches, schools and businesses that may be vulnerable to burglary.”


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