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Restaurant Installs "Intruder Spray" To Tag Burglars With Synthetic DNA

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A Subway franchise in Knoxville, Tenn. is the first US business to arm itself with “intruder spray,” which tags would-be robbers with a product called SelectaDNA. According to the manufacturer, the solution contains “a unique DNA code which can be used to uniquely mark and trace both items of property and criminals.”

SelectaDNA’s US distributor, Johan Larsen, told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that the system is already being used in Australia and Europe. Successfully, at least according to company claims.


Anyone bold enough to ignore warning signs and break into (or bust out of) the sandwich shop will be coated in a fine mist of synthetic DNA. The spray is “traceable for weeks” and is “only visible with a glow under ultraviolet light,” according to the newspaper report:

In most cases so far, Larsen said once police see the glow, people confess. If they don’t, a laboratory can match the spray to the specific store to tie someone to the crime scene, he said

Just having the spray system along with the accompanying warning signs, is a deterrent for criminals, Larsen said. However, he said it’s just a question of time before someone is foolish enough to steal anyway and is marked by the spray.

The Subway spray installation follows a pilot program between CSI Protect and Knoxville police earlier this year to prevent property crimes, said Knoxville Police Deputy Chief Gary Holliday.


SelectaDNA also manufactures a related product for home use that was distributed in certain Knoxville neighborhoods, according to the News-Sentinel.

The adhesive liquid can be applied to valuables, and like the intruder spray, has a unique synthetic DNA code. Property owners register their SelectaDNA kits and then, if items are stolen, police can use the DNA liquid to find owners.

Both the adhesive liquid and intruder spray are about crime prevention, Larsen said.

“We want to prevent crime in general,” he said.

And the success of the residential program is what attracted Subway to install the spray system, Underwood said. Other local Subway stores will consider the spray as well, he said.

For what it’s worth, according to a 2013 report, Tennessee has the worst violent crime rate in America, and was ranked 10th among the states for property crime.

Photo by Flickr user _BuBBy_