Belgian jewelers tempted by DNA spray

Victims of a recent wave of break-ins, French jewelers are now trying out a new DNA spray.

In Belgium, 50 retailers have apparently already installed the remarkable system.

Around 70 jewelers on the Côte D’Azur (France) are keen to acquire new technology to protect their premises from burglaries and raids, and a “DNA spray”, which facilitates the identification of the perpetrators of crimes, finds itself at the top of shopping lists. This is a result of jewelers suffering numerous break-ins that have caused great consternation in France recently. In Belgium too, the interest in this high-tech tracking device is high. “Our clientele already includes 50-odd Belgian retailers, with jewelers among them, of course,” says Pascal Kouppé, head of SelectaDNA France. The UK-based firm is currently the only company in the world marketing a DNA spray and can count big names such as McDonald’s among its French customers.

 

How exactly does it work? In the event of a shop being raided or broken into, the DNA spray system, activated by the owner or by an automatic detection mechanism, releases synthetic micro-particles into the air much like an atomizer would do. “We started off with a water molecule, which resembles a spiral staircase, and we changed the position of the arms to create our own endless coding systems,” explains Kouppé. “These codes are 100 % reliable and cannot be forged.”

 

For an average minimum price of €1,700, the customer can obtain an artificial genetic code that can be sprayed into their shop. When intruders break into or leave the premises, (depending on what moment the owner has chosen the system to activate), miniscule droplets will shoot out and fall onto their clothes and bodies. The indelible particles can linger on skin for up to six months. “As far as clothes are concerned, they’re there for life. The DNA is devised to resist temperatures of up to 600 degrees and to be detected by sniffer dogs. So, even if the perpetrator attempts to get rid of the evidence and burn his clothes, there will always be a trace.”

 

Limited effectiveness

But to compare this vaporized DNA with the one sticking to the burglar, the police will need to have the suspect in custody. Aside from its dissuasive effect, the spray will therefore have no impact whatsoever on the actual burglary. Its principal application will be helping to identify a potential criminal via an ultraviolet light, like those used by forensic scientists. “That is true. But it also enables stolen objects to be recovered because those will have also been sprayed,” says Kouppé.

 

Are Belgian jewelers ready to invest in this new technology? “Some jewelers have received training on the subject and seem interested, especially in Flanders,” states Marie-Christine Heeren of the Conseil Supérieur du Bijou et de la Montre, a Belgian association for trade professionals in the precious metals industry. “The system does appear revolutionary and easy to install. But it is probably best used in tandem with other prevention systems,” she adds.

 

LUDIVINE PONCIAU

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