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Forensic Marking Behind Police's Biggest Burglary Drop

A highly successful crime campaign using SelectaDNA forensic marking to deter theft has helped Cheshire Police record the biggest drop in burglaries in England and Wales - according to the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Operation Shield, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, is thought to have contributed significantly to a 19% year-on-year fall in burglaries – with an estimated 1,300 fewer victims and a saving to victims of more than £2.5m in a seven-month period alone.

Operation Shield uses SelectaDNA, a forensic liquid containing DNA unique to each property. It can be used to mark belongings, allowing them to be returned to the owner no matter where it is recovered from. Offenders committing crime can also find themselves marked with the forensic liquid, which stays on their hair, skin, and clothes and cannot be washed off.

Over the past year, Cheshire Police have issued thousands of homeowners with SelectaDNA home property marking kits. Hundreds of street signs have also been rolled out across the county warning would-be burglars against targeting areas protected by SelectaDNA.

Cheshire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Boycott said: "Operation Shield is not just about placing a protective shield around our homes and places of work, it is also about making its mark on those who profit from these crimes.

"It has and continues to help us build stronger and more resilient communities by making homes less attractive to those who want to cause harm, as well as playing its part in expanding schemes such as Cheshire Alert, Home Watch and Rural Watch in our rural communities.

"Having a criminal enter your home and take your possession is often a very upsetting and unsettling experience. Criminals who make their living from breaking into homes and business and stealing other people's possessions now know that across Cheshire, Operation Shield will provide officers with essential evidence to bring them to justice."

Every person arrested in Cheshire is screened under a special ultra violet light in custody – if they have committed a crime in an Operation Shield area, they will be marked, and the unique DNA will link them directly to the individual crime scene.

ACC Sarah Boycott added: "Operation Shield has been a great success for us over the past twelve months. We have seen a significant reduction in burglaries in Operation Shield protected areas since the launch and we are confident that the scheme has played a significant role in those results.

"The use of the property marking fluid and the accompanying stickers and signage has been a deterrent for would be burglars in Operation Shield protected areas. We are now working to expand the scheme to protect the property and increase the sense of security among our communities."