DNA technology helps break up gangs of international thieves

Stony Brook, NY (USA)

Applied DNA Sciences, Inc, a provider of DNA-based supply chain, anti-counterfeiting and anti-theft technology, product genotyping and DNA mass production for diagnostics, is helping break up international gangs of car thieves.

BMW implemented a mandatory DNA marking programme in Sweden for new vehicles in February 2016. Supported by multiple insurance brands, the programme has proven effective in curbing thefts by over 80% and facilitating prosecution of "chop shop" criminals. To gangs with international distribution networks, the collective value of a chopped car’s components can be worth more than the car previously sold as new and intact. Once marked with Signature DNA, components can be traced back to a specific vehicle, and there have been numerous cases where this has assisted police already.

A recent investigation revealed that of 60 stolen car parts found in Lithuania, 17 were marked with Smart DNA (the Scandinavian brand of Signature DNA) and so could be traced back to their source and original owner.

According to Smart DNA's Leif Svensson, the creation of this programme was necessitated by the increasing rate of car part theft in Sweden.

"Last year alone, our country was due to start about 3 thousand pre-trial investigations for car theft. And in each case, the victim's or insurance company's losses amounted to between 15 and 20 thousand euros. Therefore, it was decided to spare no investment in new technologies - mandatory for all new BMW cars and marking systems," said Svensson, highlighting the fact that Swedish authorities detained 39 Lithuanians for car part theft in 2016.

"This is the message to thieves…DNA technology will be available anywhere, because the police are without borders," stated Aleksejus Gubenko, Kaunas County Police 3rd Division Chief. Gubenko demonstrated the technology at a media conference, and explained how their colleagues from Sweden donated equipment that will become an antidote for various forms of theft.

Tony Benson, Managing Director for Applied DNA Sciences Europe, further added: “It is well known that stolen car parts are shipped around the world and often sold on the internet at a bargain price. When customers purchase our Signature DNA marker they are also buying a security intelligence service, since when stolen car parts are recovered we carry out forensic analysis and map where the items are stolen from and the location they were found, and so build up an intelligence picture which we then share with law enforcement agencies enabling them to capture not only the initial car thieves but the whole international criminal supply chain. To give you an idea of the scale of our security intelligence, we have carried out forensic analysis on thousands of items recovered by law enforcement agencies enabling the imprisonment of 114 individuals who have received prison sentences of over 540 years with many more cases in the pipeline which makes a significant difference.”

Dr. James Hayward, president and CEO of Applied DNA stated: “Imagine the irony of a bargain-hunting car enthusiast, hunting the web for bargain “original parts” that do not void the manufacturer’s warranty. These are original, but stolen parts that are likely abused as they traverse the criminal supply chain. Worse, the system promulgates collaboration in gang-based enterprises that can fund other activities with more deleterious impact on humanity.”


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