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Techno Tagging to Deter Thieves

SelectaDNA is an invisible solution containing a unique synthetic "DNA" sequence that can be applied to almost anything, including laptops and other valuable equipment.

If marked property is stolen, and later recovered, police can identify the original owner through a "DNA test" or by looking for microdots that are visible under a microscope.

Mathew Arnold-Kelly, acting prevention manager for New Zealand Police, said SelectaDNA could provide police with a trail of evidence that would help them achieve prosecutions after they recover property from suspected thieves.

Police were very fond of their brand, "so we don't generally endorse other organisations or their products", he said, but the SelectaDNA kits had proven so effective at preventing burglaries at other schools in New Zealand that police in Nelson Tasman were eager to see the initiative rolled out here.

Inspector Arnold-Kelly said police's Operation Snap, aimed at reducing burglaries and property thefts, would benefit from the distribution of anti-theft kits to local schools, which he said were often an easy target for burglars.

He estimated that Nelson Bays' schools were broken into or burgled 40 times in the previous 12 months, amounting to 4 or 5 per cent of all burglaries in the region.

Strategies like property-marking, which put prevention first, would help to make school communities, and the wider public, safer, he said.

"Crime is not a police problem, it's a community problem," he said.

A SelectaDNA representative said the kits were first trialled in Manurewa in 2009, with schools reporting a 61.8 per cent reduction in property theft.

So far 2400 schools had been given a kit, which retails for $50, with the 100 remaining in Nelson and Tasman to complete the nationwide rollout, she said.

Maitai School deputy principal Penny Cooper said she would use the kit to mark the school's technology property, and other expensive specialist equipment.

"Everyone is aware now that schools are getting a lot of removable technology, like iPads and tablets, which is very valuable and easy to take," Ms Cooper said.

Ad Feedback  David Morrissey, from SelectaDNA, said the anti-theft kit raises the risk that criminals calculate when deciding if a crime is worth committing.

"The bottom line is, criminals are very aware that this is dangerous for them."

Schools should widely advertise that their property is marked, to deter opportunistic thieves, he said.

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