Sunday, December 4, 2022

Sheriff’s office encourages residents to use new ‘property DNA’ adhesive to help recover stolen items

The sheriff’s office has partnered with Florida-based Protech DNA to offer residents a new way to discreetly mark their items and register them in a national database -- called “DNA for Property.” (WYDaily/Courtesy YPSO and ProtechDNA)
The sheriff’s office has partnered with Florida-based Protech DNA to offer residents a new way to discreetly mark their items and register them in a national database  called “DNA for Property.”
(WYDaily/Courtesy YPSO and ProtechDNA)

Bad things can happen to good people.

But the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office wants to help victims of larcenies bounce back after their valuables are stolen.

The sheriff’s office has partnered with Florida-based ProtechDNA to offer residents a new way to discreetly mark their items and register them in a national database — called “DNA for Property.”

Using a forensic adhesive, residents can chemically-etch a unique alpha-numeric personal identification number into their items. After applying the adhesive, they then register their items in the International Asset Registry for Law-enforcement through ProtechDNA.

If those items are ever stolen, law enforcement can scan the item with an ultraviolet light to find the identifying PIN number.

The sheriff’s office hopes the new technology will help deter people from stealing items in the county.

“If you hear people are able to mark their property, you’re less likely to steal it,” said Deputy Shawn Kekoa-Dearhart, a community services deputy with the sheriff’s office. “It’s like an officer standing at the front of a bank. You have an obstacle in place.”

Kekoa-Dearhart said the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office is the first law enforcement agency in Virginia to use the DNA for Property kits.

“I kind of call it glue,” Kekoa-Dearhart said. “It’s invisible to the naked eye.”

Finding the details

Kekoa-Dearhart said she first heard about the program when Sheriff J. D. “Danny” Diggs and YPSO spokeswoman Shelley Ward came to her after watching a newscast about the program.

Diggs and Ward had seen the property identification kits on a news broadcast in Kissimmee, Florida about a month ago, and suggested Kekoa-Dearhart implement a similar program in York County and Poquoson.

Kekoa-Dearhart then called the Kissimmee Police Department and spoke with a sergeant in the investigations department. That officer directed her to Shawn Andreas, ProtechDNA president.

What is it?

The adhesive can be applied to a variety of items of different materials, such as bicycles, laptops or electronics, according to the ProtechDNA website.

Residents can order the adhesive kits — valued around $40 — free of charge except for a $5.99 shipping fee, from ProtechDNA. The kit is offered at a low price because ProtechDNA partners with insurance companies to offset costs, Kekoa-Dearhart said.

After an owner marks their personal property with the clear adhesive, they will then register for a free account with ProtechDNA. Registering ensures the owner is assigned a PIN number.

In that account, users will register each item with its make, model, serial number and any other identifying characteristics that could help find the owner.

The items will then be logged onto the International Asset Registry for Law-enforcement database, which is connected to more than 36,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States, according to the ProtechDNA website.

Kekoa-Dearhart said the sheriff’s office will be able to access the database during investigations to help connect residents with their lost or stolen items. They will also have a special blacklight to scan items for the adhesive identifying tags.

“With a large percentage of stolen property never getting back into the hands of law enforcement, users that enter specific details of each item marked with the DNA adhesive into their account can soon be notified if their property is sold at a pawn shop,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a news release. “This new feature will match property details against pawn transactions and notify law enforcement and users.”

Kekoa-Dearhart said the partnership with ProtechDNA comes at no cost to the sheriff’s office.

“Our job is to let the citizens know about it,” Kekoa-Dearhart said.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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