DNA: making counterfeiting, theft much more difficult

Applied DNA Science has partnered with the UK Metropolitan Police to offer DNA-based property marking kits for to residents who reside in areas with high burglary rates.
Written by David Worthington, Contributor
Police in London are using plant DNA to mark valuables

London's holiday valuables could be safer from theft this year. Applied DNA Science, a U.S. provider of biological anti-counterfeiting technology, has partnered with the UK Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to offer DNA-based property marking kits available to residents who reside in neighborhoods with high burglary rates.

Applied DNA's deal was the MPS was announced on Friday. The MPS has utilized its technology to prosecute 50 cash transit hijackings to conviction; every prosecution was successful. Couriers rigged cashboxes to spray the company's uncopyable plant-based DNA on stolen bills, which a U.S. national lab tried but failed to duplicate under a Defense Department directive, said Dr. Jim Hayward, Applied DNA's CEO.

London residents will use the same unique DNA to mark and register their belongings with the MPS. Any stolen goods could be traced to a specific crime scene, and that should help to deter theft, Hayward said. The MPS benefits because it is much cheaper to deter crime than to have to prosecute the crime, he added.

"Our DNA products are already used across Europe in high security applications. We protect approximately twenty-six percent (26%) of all cash movements across the UK, which has been instrumental in the capture and sentencing of a significant number of criminals. Our DNA is also used across Sweden in jewelry stores and recently to protect copper assets located in Energy stations throughout Sweden. We are delighted to be working with the Metropolitan Police on this excellent crime reduction initiative to help protect households and communities for people worried about crime in their neighborhoods," Hayward said in a statement.

The company recently scored a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to mitigate the risk of counterfeiting microchip components that are used in sensitive military systems. The DoD had uncovered counterfeits in its supply chain that it deemed as a potential national security threat.

Applied Science's DNA marking is designed for application on nearly any surface from textiles to documents and consumer electronics. The cost at scale approaches pennies, Hayward said. He cited a 500,000 chip production run with a San Jose, California microchip manufacturer as evidence of DNA marking working at scale. The potential market is greater than 10 percent of global trade, Hayward noted.

Access to the plant DNA is restricted to customers that have implemented high-risk controls, Hayward said. "There are tight criteria we live by religiously, as do our customers."

(Applied DNA Sciences)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards