Applied DNA catches Irish robber blue/green-handed

Marked bills: Applied DNA molecular tags have helped Irish authorities nail the getaway driver in a Dublin armed robbery.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Already the bane of Swedish car thieves, Applied DNA Sciences has now notched its first armed-robbery criminal conviction in Ireland.

The latest international adventure for the Stony Brook-based anti-theft and product-authentication specialist and its ever-evolving roster of vertical markets takes us to the Emerald Isle, where evidence gathered through the biotech’s SigNature DNA platform has helped convict a thug involved in a violent theft.

According to Applied DNA, the case involves a February 2016 heist in Dublin, in which a guard employed by international security-solutions provider G4S was approached by two criminals – one brandishing a gun, the other a knife – and relieved of a flush cashbox.

The armed robbers then fled the scene in a getaway car driven by 21-year-old Dubliner Lee Harris, who both chauffeured the thieves and kept an eye out for police.

Little did the gang know that the contents of the cashbox had been marked with Applied DNA’s molecular tags, a key – and to the layman, virtually undetectable – component of the biotech’s DNA-based authentication protocols.

Tony Benson: You’ve been warned, lads.

Later that evening, according to Applied DNA, Harris was stopped at a police checkpoint for driving erratically. He was charged with drunk driving and found to be carrying about 2,850 euros (roughly $3,400 U.S.) in blue/green ink-stained bank notes.

Local police contacted Applied DNA and requested a forensic examination of the notes. Company laboratories analyzed samples and forensically linked the stained bills – which had been marked with a proprietary security ink containing a unique SigNature DNA tag – to the stolen cashbox.

Within a week of the crime, Harris was charged with armed robbery. He was finally convicted last month and sentenced to four years in prison, according to Applied DNA.

Trumpeting “the first criminal conviction in Ireland secured using SigNature DNA evidence,” Tony Benson, Applied DNA’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the case “should act as a warning to any other criminals who may be considering a cash-in-transit attack” in Ireland.

“Our ever-increasing (international) tally has now reached 115 criminals convicted for 545 years of jail time,” Benson noted.

For a company as diversified as Applied DNA – its molecular-tagging tech now protects supply chains in a wide variety of industries and its state-of-the-art DNA-production capabilities are discovering their own unique verticals – the Case of the Co-Opted Cashbox also showed that Applied DNA’s lab work is still beyond reproach, added President and CEO James Hayward.

“This demonstrates the fantastic service provided by Applied DNA, and in particular our forensic laboratory team,” Hayward said in a statement. “They analyze these bank note samples quickly, which is often the subject of special praise.”


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