Instead of locating drugs or human remains, a two-year old black Labrador called Jazz has been trained by former Police Officer and Home Office Police Dog Instructor Mick Swindells to locate SelectaDNA forensic markings on a range of metals including copper, lead and aluminium.
Metal theft is costing the UK economy approximately £770m a year and there are about 1,000 incidents reported each week.
SelectaDNA is being used in many police-backed crime reduction initiatives across the UK and by companies such as Network Rail to protect copper cable from metal theft.
Mick Swindells started his company Search Dogs UK after retiring as a police officer for Lancashire Constabulary. He has trained dogs for a variety of purposes including drugs detection, tracking and trailing, and disaster recovery.
Complimenting existing police search procedures, Jazz is able to sniff for stolen metal in places like scrap yards, where metal is often piled high and any containing forensic markings is not immediately visible to the human eye.
Jazz was originally a gundog at a farm near Blackpool in north-west England and it took Mick just two months to train her fully for her new role.
Mick said: “Jazz is a world-first. She has been trained to sniff out SelectaDNA, which is a unique covert security marker being used by more than three quarters of UK Police forces to track down burglars, robbers and metal thieves and bring them to justice.”
He continued: “As humans we can only search in 2D ie. in the line of sight, but dogs can search in 3D by using their noses. They can be incredibly accurate, and can pinpoint their target to within a couple of centimetres.
“Jazz is able to touch the marked metal with her nose identifying the target scent of SelectaDNA, allowing officers to move in at this point and make further investigations.”
James Brown from Selectamark, the Kent-based security company that produces SelectaDNA, said: “Jazz could revolutionise the way we search for stolen metals and criminals themselves.”
He explained: “Previously, officers had to search manually for marked metal which could prove time consuming and at times not successful as often the process was like finding a needle in a haystack.
“The combination of using a trained dog like Jazz to sniff out stolen metal marked with SelectaDNA is surely the ultimate search tool for police and any other investigators determined to catch metal thieves and other types of offenders.”