DNA Spray – It’s Hard Out There For a Crook

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

And it’s getting more difficult with the introduction of DNA spray. DNA spray is an invisible mist dispensed from devices placed in high crime areas. The mist is harmless and visible under UV light and sticks to clothing and the crevasses of the skin. Even after three-a-day showers, the DNA will remain on an offender for weeks. DNA spray provides a unique signature that, after forensic analysis, can irrefutably place the person at the scene of a crime.

The system is popular in Europe and will be coming to the U.S. soon.

Rotterdam police say that none of the locations that have the spray installed have been burglarized. The sprayers come with warning signs that can be placed in windows. The criminals see the warning signs and move on to unprotected businesses or homes. I wonder if they sell a “starter kit” that contains only the signs.

Analysis of the spray just proves the person was present at the scene of a crime, it doesn’t provide evidence that the person committed the crime. It is easy enough for police to check for UV fluorescence without an invasion of privacy.

But is the presence of UV fluorescence reason enough for police to collect a sample that could then be sent to a lab for the required analysis, or would a judge have to issue a warrant? Innocent bystanders might also be contaminated with the spray and would, hence, fluoresce. The police would have to rely on evidence other than UV fluorescence to justify a warrant.

H/T: ABC, SelectaDNA.

30 thoughts on “DNA Spray – It’s Hard Out There For a Crook”

  1. I wonder, does each business get it’s own DNA, unique to that business or does everyone get the same DNA…

  2. pete,
    I think we have made a discovery. Self igniting cupcakes so you don’t need birthday candles. They light themselves.

  3. raff-

    The Republicans and the corporations believe that the less we know, the happier we will be. Ask the Tea Partyers.

  4. Pete-

    Those black clumps all over the sea floor? Don’t worry-they’re harmless. After two years they turn into chocolate cupcakes and float to the surface. Eat all you want- they’re delicious! Brought to you by BP. Serving your energy and snacking needs….responsibly!

  5. HenMan
    you forgot

    2010-just spray it on the oil spill, don’t worry it’s safe (now give me that camera, no pictures allowed)

  6. AY,
    I would be a fish out of water, but thanks! Besides, I think I remember watching someone pull one of those alarms back in college. I might have DNA still on me!

  7. HenMan,
    Well said! If the Republicans in Congress get their way and defund the EPA, the only information we will have is what the corporation wants us to know!

  8. 1946– “Of course DDT is safe to spray on your crops. It’s been tested”

    1950– “Of course it’s safe to be in a foxhole 2 miles from the atomic bomb test. Now get a move on, Private.”

    1968– “Of course it’s safe to handle Agent Orange- we all know the reputation of the Dow Chemical Company.”

    2011– “Of course it’s safe. The manufacturer says it’s harmless. And it catches the crooks.”

  9. rafflaw,

    You wanna get licensed Pro Hac Vice and assist….Not saying I did….not saying I didn’t….

  10. AY,
    Hah! It is a good thing you didn’t pull it! They might still have a warrant out for your arrest for malicious alarm pulling!

  11. rafflaw,

    It’s kinda hard to say that “I didn’t pull it” when you glow in the light….

  12. I can get a cat if I want to get sprayed every day! This is kind of sick. I guess I would have to learn more about the spray, but the idea of walking into a building for a meeting allows someone to spray me with a substance that could be used to claim I was involved in a crime is hard for me to fathom. I agree with Elaine and her questions.
    Isn’t the fact that the police are “scanning” me for the substance an invasion of privacy?
    AY,
    I think Illinois has had those kind of “markers” in their fire alarms for years as well.

  13. Nal,

    I have some questions:

    – Is the DNA substance sprayed 24/7? I certainly wouldn’t want to enter a building that sprayed me with a substance that would stick to my clothing and my skin.
    – What about blind people who can’t read signs?
    – Has the DNA spray been tested? Has it been proven that it’s not harmful to humans, animals, clothing?
    – How do the police know which people have been sprayed with the substance in order to test to see if they “fluoresce?”

    *****
    “DNA spray provides a unique signature that, after forensic analysis, can irrefutably place the person at the scene of a crime.”

    But can the spray place the person at the scene of a crime at the time when the crime was committed?

    *****

    There are people who live in high crime areas? Are they going to be subjected to “spraying” because of where they live?

    *****

    “But is the presence of UV fluorescence reason enough for police to collect a sample that could then be sent to a lab for the required analysis, or would a judge have to issue a warrant? Innocent bystanders might also be contaminated with the spray and would, hence, fluoresce. The police would have to rely on evidence other than UV fluorescence to justify a warrant.”

    Right. How helpful could this spray actually be in helping police? This “crime-fighting” idea doesn’t make all that much sense to me.

  14. Dearborn Michigan has been using this type of technology since the early 70’s….specifically a spray that puffs in your hand when you pull a fire alarm and is detectable by a special light…….

  15. This might be an interesting way to help bolster falling law enforcement budgets. With the budget crunches being felt at the state and local level it is worth a try. High crime areas in low income areas should not be excluded.

  16. and move on to unprotected businesses or homes.

    So it’s the same deal as with CCTVs? Crime is just relocated from areas who can afford such gadgets to poorer areas?

    Well, we all know that poor people have nothing really valuable to loose anyway, so they can deal much better with crime. /s

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