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UK-Developed 'DNA Spray' Marks Dutch Thieves With Trackable Water 191

eldavojohn writes "In Rotterdam, there's a new technology in place that dispenses a barely visible mist over those around it and alerts the police. The purpose? To tag robbers and link them back to the scene of the crime. From the article, 'The mist — visible only under ultraviolet light — carries DNA markers particular to the location, enabling the police to match the burglar with the place burgled. Now, a sign on the front door of the McDonald's prominently warns potential thieves of the spray's presence: "You Steal, You're Marked."' Developed in Britain, it's yet to nab a criminal but it will be interesting to see whether or not synthesized DNA will hold up as sufficient evidence in an actual court of law." So it's not just for copper thieves.
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UK-Developed 'DNA Spray' Marks Dutch Thieves With Trackable Water

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  • "visible only under ultraviolet light"

    Then it can't be used in the night clubs as those "black lights" will make-it VERY visible.

  • Beef spray (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pflipp ( 130638 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:20AM (#33958394)

    Well, that's the first thing they'll serve with actual DNA in it, then.

  • I understand new tech is nice and all.... But what's wrong with a simple camera ? Or a burglar alarm ? Why bother with these high flying ideas ? I understand that insurance is practically non existant for comanies, but how high costs do you really need to incur to "secure" yourself ?
    You can't even trace the burglar as I understand it, you have to actually find him, and then test people for the presense of the mist. I dont see this a commercially viable product, even if it pans out as permissable in a court

    • Re:But why ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:38AM (#33958496)
      I've seen stickers in buildings 'armed' with this stuff since the early 90s (my old primary school used it, it came in little bottles with a felt applicator, and the stuff dried out almost instantly so opening one resulted in a mad rush to tag everything). Generally, the idea was not to tag burglars, but instead to stick a dab onto valuable equipment. Because vanishingly few burglars would bother to go over stolen goods with a UV lamp looking for a little glowing patch, and even fewer would then go and acquire the solvents required to remove all traces of the stuff, it generally sticks around better than a simple unpeelable sticker or sand-able etched number. If it got stolen and subsequently recovered, it could then be definitively traced back to a crime. Makes prosecution easier, and helps with insurance (and even getting your stuff back if you can definitively prove it's yours).
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AlecC ( 512609 )

      Thieves wear hoods, motorcycle helmets, stockings... Alarms go off so often that responses are slow, if at all: a burglar can be in and out long before the alarm is responded to,

      Since the spray is highly personalized, you can shine an ultra-violet light on a suspect - which they will have difficulty objecting to - and trace them back to a crime for which you may not even have suspected them. If it is the case, as commonly alleged, that the majority of crime is committed by a small number of people, then you

      • Indeed they wear hoods. And disguise themselves. But if you dont catch the culprit, then what's the point of this particular peiece of invention ? I concur, when you gather up "the usual suspects", you're likely to get a hit once in a while, but IMO an ounce of prevention is orth a pound of cure. I dont really see this product as something the local macdonalds will want to invest in to protect their friers, or even households to protect their TV.

        In essense (and I may be wrong here), this product only seems

        • Shining an ultraviolet light on someone can be done without a warrant. You can approach every group of teens/thugs in a two mile radius and check them, and then have probable cause for an arrest. Otherwise it's less legal to detain a group of kids walking two block away when there's no proof they were involved at all.

    • 1 - Buy spray synthesiser machine.
      2 - Make it known that you offer a safety service to bank robbers: they come to you once sprayed and you make 100l of the substance for them to spray on the streets for a week.
      3 - Profit.
      4 - ???

    • Because Alarms don't follow thieves.

      Defense in depth. I doubt any company is going to remove their CCTV and alarms but this provides yet another layer of defense. This layer also follows the theif & stolen property. Better yet use them in conjuction. Tag property w/ the marker and also have mister which goes off when alarm sounds.

      It is all about defense in depth.

      As DNA technology gets cheaper and more advanced who knows in 20-30 years Police dept might have a device they swab the marker, put it on a

  • by pwilli ( 1102893 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:28AM (#33958446)
    "The police acknowledge that they have yet to make an arrest based on the DNA mist, which was developed in Britain by two brothers, one a policeman and the other a chemist. But they credit its presence — and signs posted prominently warning of its use — for what they call a precipitous decline in crime rates (though they could not provide actual figures to back that up).

    I don't see any burglars, so it has to be working.
  • by vidnet ( 580068 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:33AM (#33958470) Homepage

    They're spraying their DNA over customers, and it shows up under a blacklight?

    Oh, come on! This is just too easy.

  • they will have to change the DNA marker after one use.

    otherwise it will be duplicated and sprayed freely - f.e. on court-staff

    Also checking for duplicate natural DNA showing the same pattern has to be done - no one can exclude this!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shimbo ( 100005 )

      they will have to change the DNA marker after one use....Also checking for duplicate natural DNA

      Smartwater [] uses various methods to encode a unique signature. No actual DNA is involved.

  • So, "DNA spray" that is visible under ultraviolet light? They jizz on my pants?
  • Old news is old (Score:3, Informative)

    by fridaynightsmoke ( 1589903 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @05:54AM (#33958568) Homepage

    I first heard of this stuff about 10 years ago, under the name "SmartWater" - []

    IIRC it won some kind of 'Millenium Award' in 1999 or 2000

    • ! DNA (Score:3, Informative)

      by arth1 ( 260657 )

      As far as I can tell, it's not only not new, but it also has nothing to do with DNA. The marker is either a unique proportion of certain non-evaporating particles, or small engraved chips with a number on them.
      DNA has nothing to do with this, even in an abstract sense -- it is not self-replicating, and certainly not biological.

  • And again, here's the typical 'It's perfect because nobody robbed us yet' argument. If only a few percent of the stores are equiped with this 'DNA spray', I'm pretty sure that the criminals will target the other 95+% of the stores with more traditional security measures.

    We'll only know if this works if a significant percentage of the jewelries and retail stores in the neighbourhood are equiped with this. Criminals are creative, but above all they're lazy, just like us developers :P

  • Hamburglar (Score:3, Funny)

    by GodWasAnAlien ( 206300 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @07:18AM (#33958960)

    This is an elaborate scheme to finally stop the Hamburglar, the masked hamburger stealer, who the company strangely uses as a commercial icon.

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @07:27AM (#33959034)
    If we can spray this on corporate lobbyists, we can finally identify who is stealing money from our citizen taxpayers.
  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Wednesday October 20, 2010 @08:49AM (#33959632) Homepage Journal
    This shit doesn't contain "DNA," it contains a chemical sequence that's sufficiently unique. They say "DNA" because DNA is so variant no two people who aren't clones (such as twins) have the same DNA. But it catches idiots with buzzwords.
  • Who's DNA are they using?

    Prawo Jazdy's?
  • Somebody will be suing claiming it causes cancer. Or bronchitis at the very least.

    We've been waiting for the first major nanotech lawsuit for a while, and this may be it.


  • What's stopping me from getting my own DNA water, and spraying it all over your stuff that I want to steal?

  • Now, a sign on the front door of the McDonald's prominently warns potential thieves of the spray's presence: "You Steal, You're Marked."

    But, nothing tastes quite as good as the McRib you make yourself for free!

  • "fine mist with trace of DNA" my arse.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson