A unique dog − with a nose for trouble − is helping to recover stolen property in Cheshire.
Jazz, a black Labrador, is working alongside officers from Cheshire Police as part of Operation Shield − a forensic property marking initiative.
The specially trained sniffer dog searches out items marked with a unique DNA system to protect valuables − such as electrical items and jewellery. The system is unique to each address and helps to identify stolen items if they are recovered.
The operation, which launched last week, is targeting those who commit theft and burglary. As part of the initiative around 1000 property marking kits, which consist of a traceable liquid that residents can use to forensically mark valuables, have been delivered to homes in burglary hotspots across the county.
On Monday, the dog, which is owned by SelectaDNA, spent the morning in Chester searching homes and businesses for any items, which might be marked with the substance and could have been stolen.
Following an early morning warrant being executed at a property in the city Jazz, her handler Mick and local officers visited second hand shops to check for any stolen items.
Sergeant Ian Wilson, from Chester Outer Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Enlisting the help of the dog is another powerful tool in the fight against burglary and theft in Cheshire. Jazz has been specifically trained to pick up the scent of the forensic marking fluid and is currently the only dog in the world trained to do so.
“On this occasion, no stolen items were found but it allowed Jazz to show off her skills and to reinforce how much of an asset she will be as part of the operation. Within minutes of searching she had indicated that there were no items marked with the forensic liquid − potentially saving officers a lot of time when searching a room for stolen items.”
Later on that day Jazz was tasked with searching for stolen property marked with the traceable liquid in a test environment at Cheshire Police′s headquarters in Winsford.
The dog searched a room, about 14ft square, which was full of boxes and equipment. A compact digital camera, which had been marked with the traceable liquid, was hidden away.
When Jazz was let into the room she made a bee–line straight to the camera without any hesitation and indicated that she had detected something.
When suspected stolen property is recovered in Cheshire this can be analysed by taking a sample of the traceable liquid and the DNA code is then checked, which shows which property or business it is registered to.
Sgt Wilson added: “We recover a lot of items, which are believed to be stolen, but often struggle to reunite them with their owners simply because we have no way of knowing who they are. With this system your property can be traced back to you quickly and easily even if it is recovered from the other end of the country.”