Saturday, February 21, 2009

DNA could curb thefts of paving

Date: 19 February 2009
Police are launching their latest weapon in the battle against the theft of thousands of pounds worth of York paving stones from the Haslemere area.
Surrey police said more than 20 thefts had been reported since last summer from towns and villagers.

And most recently West Sussex police were called to The Greyhound pub on Cocking Causeway when thieves stole 25 thick York paving stones which had formed the pub's garden path for the past 50 years.

But now Surrey Police and their Safer Waverley partners are tackling the problem with a new DNA product which has helped cut the number of lead thefts.

They have bought a supply of weatherproof DNA-based glue which is to be used to mark valuable stone or similar materials. The glue, when applied, does not cause discolouration and has a unique identity code which can be seen under ultra-violet light.

Officers will then be checking with dealers in a bid to trace any marked stone.

Neighbourhood Inspector Simon Dann explained: "The theft of York stone and garden ornaments continues to be a problem. These items are often of high value, but once stolen are very difficult for police to identify conclusively.

"The use of modern DNA products allows an owner to mark their property making it unique and when officers recover property they can then restore it to the owner along with proof that it was stolen to the satisfaction of the courts.

"I would urge anyone with high-value property which might be targeted to consider buying these products in an effort to secure them."

He added: "On each occasion, the thieves are making off with a substantial quantity of stones and would be using a vehicle to transport them.

"If anyone sees a suspicious vehicle in the area they need to contact Surrey Police as any information could prove vital."

Police are reminding residents to stay vigilant as the area is still being targeted by York stone thieves.

They are asked to report sightings of any suspicious individuals or vehicles seen hanging around their property to police straight away.

Police are also appealing to anyone who has been offered second-hand paving stones to come forward, as they may have vital information about who is stealing them in the first place.

Anyone who has information which could help, or if anyone has been approached to buy second-hand paving, they should contact Surrey Police on 0845 125 2222 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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