ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) — A high-tech crime-fighting technology is making its way to businesses and law enforcement agencies across the state, including in the Capital Region.
The technology, from SelectDNA, is a synthetic DNA mist that is water-based, invisible to the naked eye, and non-toxic, but if someone breaks into a location armed with the forensic technology, they’ll likely be doused in it.
“The system is then told, OK, there is someone in the facility and as they are leaving the building there is a motion detector over the door. They’ll set off the motion detector, the spray will be released, and then they’ll walk through that mist on their way out,” said Robert Guillerault.
He’s the co-owner of Albany-based Shepherd Communication and Security, which is the first company to be exclusively selected by SelectDNA to install the systems in businesses across Upstate New York.
The perpetrator’s skin is then marked for up to four to six weeks and clothing for two to three months. It’s then detected through a special frequency UV wand that local law enforcement agencies will have on hand.
Each canister has its own unique forensic code in order to trace it back to a specific store or location. The codes are never replicated.
“Now you put two and two together and you have your perpetrator,” said Guillerault.
The SelectDNA mist can be activated manually through a panic button located in the shop, through remote video monitoring, or even with a handheld canister.
“This can be used by law enforcement in the case of, say a riot situation, or if you are in your place of business and you pull this out and you could douse the person that’s robbing you at the time,” said Guillerault.
The first tagging system to be installed in the Capital Region is Truman’s Jewelers on North Pearl Street in Albany. Having been a victim of an armed robbery in the past the owner, Paul Crabbe, said this new technology gives him peace of mind.
“This just takes the edge off. I’ll help them pack, I’ll spritz them on the way out, and call my insurance agent,” he said.
This Crime Suppression Initiative was launched by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association and training will begin at departments across the state next week. Soon Albany County Sheriff’s investigators will be prepared to assist local police agencies like Albany. They will learn how to extract the evidence and test it.
“If we can address that and we can drive down these property crimes in our communities, we can do some great things in terms of some of the other violent crimes were having,” said Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins.
According to SelectDNA, this scientific technology will deter crime (burglary, robbery, high-value theft), serve as additional evidence to secure convictions, and even exonerate accused individuals who were not at the crime scene.
In terms of admissibility in court, Chief Hawkins said he sees it being very similar to dye packs in banks.
“I anticipate there will be some challenges anytime you have new technology that is being used as a means to prosecute people,” said Chief Hawkins.
According to SelectDNA, while the technology is new to the United States, it’s been used for more than a decade and proven effective in around 30 different countries.
“Where it’s been used there’s an average of 40-86% reduction in crime,” said Sheriff Ernest Cutting, the Acting Chairman of the Executive Committee for the New York State Sheriff’s Association.
You can also use SelectDNA to mark valuables in your home. It stays on hard surfaces for up to five years.