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DNA tagging used to fight theft

Source: Dominion Post


DNA technology should dramatically cut the number of thefts from schools after being rolled out in Kapiti by Police Minister Anne Tolley.

SelectaDNA, an invisible liquid with a unique sequence of DNA including 60 chromosomes in every bottle, can be applied to laptops, musical instruments, trophies, or any other items at risk of being stolen from schools.

Police can identify the owner of a recovered item through a DNA test, or by looking at a microdot under a microscope.

At the Wellington region launch at Kapiti College, Mrs Tolley said schools were a traditional target of crime.

"As schools use technology more and more on a daily basis . . . these items are very saleable, so they have become a target. It's absolutely heartbreaking when these no-goods come in and steal it. All of that creates an enormous range of victims."

SelectaDNA director David Morrissey said the liquid had first been used in South Auckland, and had helped reduce crime there by about 60 per cent, which he described as "quite phenomenal".

It was also noticed during the trial that no crime, including tagging, had occurred at either of the three schools taking part.

Now 1600 schools have been given SelectaDNA, and 244 more schools in the Wellington region are being given deterrent kits this week.

By the end of the year, every school in the North Island will have a kit, and all South Island schools should have received one by term three of next year.

Early figures show crime decreasing by about 40 per cent at schools with SelectaDNA.

Mr Morrissey said that although it was possible to remove some of the liquid, "you can't get it all off", and only a small sample was needed to find the DNA sequence.

Kapiti College principal Tony Kane said he would be applying the SelectaDNA to staff laptops first, and would move on to other items afterwards.

"We had a spate a wee while back with stuff being damaged or taken. Staff laptops and stuff like that will be the first thing we look at."

A free kit is being given to every school in the Wellington region by the BNZ, which will also sell kits to the public.


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