How Mother Nature Can Prevent Bank Robberies

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(DGIwire) – We might think of bank robbery as something romantic, in a way, as many people unfortunately do. Why? Well, when we hear the names John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd or Bonnie and Clyde, it brings to mind some daring, larger-than-life characters, along with a bygone era in which men wore hats, women were called dames, and boxing was considered a viable professional sport. Even the FBI website boasts about its successful pursuit of prominent bank robbers from years past by featuring their names on the site as a badge of honor, glorifying these criminals of yore.

The truth, for banks both large and small, is that robberies are a nightmare. They put employee and customer life at risk, require costly security systems, and—obviously—cost millions of dollars each year. According to 2011 FBI statistics, robbers stole $30 million and killed or injured 100 people in the 5,000 or so robberies of financial institutions in that year alone. Those are big numbers, with the loss of life being the saddest fact behind these shocking statistics. Thanks to FTC regulations, the government insures many bank deposits. Still, that’s taxpayer money that could be used for something other than paying back the victims of crime.

All of those statistics do not even take into account the need to pay extra security, install thicker glass and implement other security measures—such as controlled entryways or more advanced vaults. Even with all the measures in place, a robbery still places employees and customers at the end of a criminal’s gun.

Applied DNA Sciences, a company based in Stony Brook, NY, might have an answer to the need for increased security in banks, using a substance derived from double-stranded plant DNA. One of the company’s products, SmokeCloak® DNA security fog, could be a key part of any bank security system designed to protect assets, employees and customers. Here’s how it works: when the alarm is triggered either automatically or manually, the SmokeCloak® DNA is set off, releasing a cloud of smoke laden with DNA markers specific to each bank location. Visible only with ultraviolet light, the SmokeCloak coats the perpetrator and the stolen merchandise with markers the thief won’t know are there until the police are running a black light over his or her guilty hands. Furthermore, the smoke enables employees and customers to seek safe cover as the attempted robber is disoriented in an inescapable cloud.

The SmokeCloak DNA security fog doesn’t just work as an after-the-fact security measure. It’s also a strong deterrent. With a product using a similar technology by the company, SigNature DNA, UK-based cash-and-valuables-in-transit firms saw cash box attacks drop 55 percent, resulting in 72 percent fewer cash losses. Sweden’s largest power company has seen an 85 percent year-over-year theft reduction after adopting DNA marking technology. Now, by deploying the DNA marks in smoke, the deterrence affect may become an even stronger.

Although no security measure is 100 percent foolproof, by using the latest in technology, we can significantly cut down on instances of violent crime. As security measures move forward, bank robbery might well be confined as it should be: to a romantic past only remembered in movies and TV shows.

Dr. James A. Hayward, President and CEO of Applied DNA Sciences, says, “Our top priority is ensuring people’s safety. With the SmokeCloak DNA security fog, we hope to set an industry standard in not only protecting assets but people as well.”

SmokeCloak® was recently selected by Popular Science as a Top Security Innovation for 2014.