It’s like DNA for your property: New technology makes it easier to track down stolen items

Taking Action

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — There’s new technology that can help you fight crime and reclaim your stolen items.

When burglars break into a home or car and make off with your valuables, often times you never get it back. Even when police recover items, usually they don’t know who it belongs to. 

Now, though, you can forensically mark your property, and the bad guys will never know it’s there.

Consider it DNA for your property.  

It’s a special adhesive with thousands of microscopic dots. They’re .05 millimeters, which is smaller than a grain of sand.

There’s new technology that can help you fight crime and reclaim your stolen items.

“And on every one of those dots we have actually chemically etched in each dot a pin number,” Shawn Andreas, the owner of Protech DNA which is behind the forensic adhesive, explained.

It’s a pin number unique to you that can tell police it’s your property.

Protech DNA is teaming up with the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office to reduce property theft and return stolen items to their rightful owner. 

“Our property room is full of property because we cannot determine who the property owners are,”  Sheriff Danny Diggs with the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office said.

Here’s how it works: 

  • First, you register online
  • Then, Protech DNA mails you a packet of gel that comes with an applicator.
  • You pour some of that gel on the applicator and then start swabbing your valuables.
  • You can swab jewelry, cell phones, even the back of your computer. Each packet of gel will allow you to mark up to 100 items.

A UV light and special detection equipment supplied to police help officers identify your personal pin and contact information which police can access through a secure database.

You don’t have to live in York County to take advantage of the technology; the database has no boundaries.  

“We have now about 5,000 law enforcement agencies that registered in our program,” Andreas said. “We recently partnered with a company where we will start cross-referencing all of our inventory with pawn shop transactions.”

Every year, millions of us are burglarized or robbed. According to the FBI, there were more than 5.5 million thefts in 2017, adding up to $5.6 billion dollars in stolen property.  

One of the biggest thefts was bikes.

“It is also one of the most recovered items and it’s also the least returnable items,” Andreas said.

Protech DNA also offers a way to tag your bicycle.

“We have embedded the microdots in the adhesive of the label,” Andreas said. “Just place it on the bicycle.”

It is free to register an account online. All you pay is $5.99 to get the gel kit shipped to you. After your swap your items to can also provide a detailed description of each item online, there’s even an app that will let you photograph your items.

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