A new experimental anti-theft tool is forcing criminals to show their true colors. As perps flee the scene of a crime, a technology called SelectDNA sprays them with an invisible substance that can be detected up to 6 months later under ultraviolet light. Think of it as a nightclub hand stamp for bad guys.
It works like this: According to Selectamark, the UK-based company behind the technology, the SelectaDNA dispenser is installed over the exits of a store, restaurant or bank, for example. When a criminal flees, an alert employee or security guard needs to punch a panic button to activate the spray. The dispenser can also be linked to an existing alarm system.
Selectamark says the non-toxic, non-allergenic solution contains a UV tracer and a unique DNA code composed of 60 variable chromosones. The technology is designed to irrefutably link the criminal to the crime; it can be traced back to the exact location where the spray was deployed, improving accuracy and eliminating the chance for the perp to claim he got sprayed somewhere else.
Since the solution is invisible to the human eye, the bad guy doesn’t necessarily know he’s been marked–until a local law enforcement agent forces him to stand under a UVA light, where he’ll start glowing like a member of the Blue Man Group. Selectamark says the substance, can’t be easily scrubbed off, and that it lasts up to 2 weeks on skin and up to 6 months on clothing.
Currently, the technology is getting a test run in some Australian retail stores along with a few McDonald’s locations, after which it will reevaluated for a broader market. Based on what we know so far, it seems to be a pretty ingenious method of tracking criminals and might make for quicker, more accurate convictions.
And if SelectaDNA technology goes mainstream, it could prove to be a serious theft-deterrent. If a shoplifter has to worry about glowing bright blue for weeks, or even months, after committing his crime, maybe he’ll think about taking up a less dangerous — and less colorful — profession.