How Central Florida law enforcement is using your DNA to find your stolen items

Police: 'Its a way to safeguard your property'

ORLANDO, Fla. – Police often recover stolen items, but they have no idea who those items belong to. A new technology aims to reconnect people with their property that has been stolen. 

The program is called ProtechDNA. It is a security solution that uses the owner's DNA to trace their belongings if they were to be stolen.

Burglary and theft are two of the most common crimes, according to the FBI. In 2017, there were 5.5 million thefts.

Becka Roska is a College Park resident who is concerned about theft, especially after she recently had a watch stolen.

"Now, I'm even more concerned," she said.

ProtechDNA uses an adhesive gel that people can swab onto their valuables. The gel contains thousands of microscopic beads that have a PIN number specific to the user.

When customers order it from the company, there is a number on the package and that number is in the gel.

The Kissimmee Police Department is one of the thousands of law enforcement agencies around the country utilizing ProtechDNA, and one of the first in Central Florida, according to Lt. Ian Downing.

"Its a way to safeguard your property that doesn’t necessarily have a serial number on it," he said. "We do recover property that would be difficult to determine who the property owner is without something like ProtechDNA."

News 6 put it to the test and marked an iPhone, a tie pin and a Louis Vuitton bag.

ProtechDNA President Shawn Andreas did a demonstration using a black light. He was able to quickly find the marked items.

Law enforcement would then use a special magnifier to read the numbers in the gel, then they enter those numbers into ProtechDNA's website, which reveals the owners of those items, according to Andreas.

The creators of ProtechDNA also have a new program called "pawn proof."

Pawn shops are required by law to report every item they take in to law enforcement.

Protech can now cross-reference items in its system with more than 7,000 pawn shops across the U.S. through the International Asset Registry for Law Enforcement database.

It means there is a better chance for law enforcement to recover and return stolen property.

"There’s nothing they have to do other than turn on the system and see if there’s anything that was sold at a pawn shop that was listed in the ProtechDNA database," Andreas said.

The insurance industry is subsidizing the cost of ProtechDNA, so people can get it free at www.protechdna.com. People must pay $5 for shipping.

However, the product only works if consumers do their part. 

People must take the time to mark all of their items, then upload a description of the item and personal PIN into the database. 

Customers should also upload serial numbers for items such as electronics so law enforcement will know who it belongs to.

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