DNA Mist Can Track Robbers

02 Nov

Every now and then you run across something that is so simple, yet so ingenious, that you just shake your head. This one makes you wonder why they didn’t think of it before.

You know those little explosive dye packets they place in the money bag that tellers hand to criminals during a robbery? When they open the bag it explodes and anyone nearby is painted with indelible ink? Those are cool, but this new technique is even better.

It seems that those clever folks in the Netherlands have come up with a DNA spray that is mounted near the door of a bank or other business. It is triggered by the teller or a store employee. The fine mist that is released has no odor and is completely unnoticeable, yet attaches to everyone who passes through it. It settles into their hair, clothing, and on any exposed body parts without the perpetrator knowing what has happened.


The Spritzer

The spray contains a synthetic DNA that is apparently marked with a fluorescent marker that makes it visible under ultraviolet light. The DNA can then be sampled and sequenced. The DNA fingerprint obtained from the robber can be linked to the DNA assigned to that particular location since each has its own specific profile.

Very cool and clever.


Posted by on November 2, 2010 in DNA, High Tech Forensics, Police Procedure


5 responses to “DNA Mist Can Track Robbers

  1. Ruby Johnson

    November 2, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    This got me to thinking about robbing a bank! Can this DNA Spray be washed off of the robber. How will this help them catch the robbers if they do bathe. Is this most useful with suspects whom the police apprehend?


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      November 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      Yes it could be washed away from skin but the mist settles into the clothing and remains. If the police ID a suspect they can check his clothing for the DNA–first with UV light and then with collection and profiling. And since the robber doesn’t even know it happened he would not likely have his clothing dry cleaned.


  2. Digital Dame

    November 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I read about this over on io9 a couple weeks ago.

    Apart from the snarky comments, there were a couple of good observations. One person asked if this might trigger an allergic reaction should some innocent person be sprayed. Another pointed out washing clothes in a bleach solution will remove it. And no doubt, this will spawn many lawsuits if they try to use it here.


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      November 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm

      Bleach would probably remove it and could also damage any DNA found. Allergies to anything is possible but in this material the risk would likely be small. Same could be said for the explosive dye that has been used for many years.


  3. Pat Marinelli

    November 3, 2010 at 6:55 am

    The ideas on how to use this in my writing are flying at me from all directions. So glad I read you blog today.



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