Cranston police utilize spray product to combat theft

(WPRI Photo | Madeleine Wright)

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Each year Cranston police officers recover hundreds of items related to break-ins, robberies and larcenies. Some items can be traced back to their owners, but most aren’t.

Members of the Cranston Police Department held a news conference Thursday to outline the city’s new initiative for combatting theft-related crimes.

Police said they are looking to cut down on property crimes and their new weapon is DNA – because serial numbers can be scratched off, but plant-based DNA never goes away.

“It’s cutting-edge technology, we’re excited about it,” said Cranston Police Chief Col. Michael Winquist.cranston-police-DNA-spray

During Thursday’s new conference, Cranston police unveiled the new program and said they are teaming up with a New York-based biotechnology company to get people to start marking their belongings differently.

“Just like a person that has DNA individual to that person, they’re creating a spray that’s individual to the product sold to a particular customer,” Winquist said.

According to officials, the DNA can be based on any type of plant.

“It can be grass, a leaf,” said Michael Nizich of Applied DNA Sciences.

Here’s how it works:

  • Spray or brush the liquid on your belongings.
  • Register your address online.
  • Then, if your stuff gets stolen and police find it, they can use an ultraviolet light to find out it has been marked.

“This is not only helped us locate the owner but successful prosecutions of criminals related to break-ins and thefts of goods,” Winquist said.

Police said the product is popular in Europe, where is has effectively reduced crime.

Cranston is the first municipality in New England to promote the technology.

DNAnet Home Asset Marking Kits are available for $69.95 and can mark up to 100 valuables, according to police. The kits are available for purchase here.

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