A crime prevention campaign is celebrating its first anniversary and bringing peace of mind to thousands of potential victims.
When Operation Shield was launched in March last year, it placed a protective shield around homes and businesses, making life tough for criminals and sending out a message that their activities will not be tolerated in Cheshire.
During that time thousands of homeowners have been issued with SelectaDNA home property marking kits, while hundreds of street signs have been rolled out across the county warning would-be burglars against targeting those areas.
And it appears to be working as the most recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed that Cheshire Constabulary had recorded a 19% year-on-year fall in burglaries – the biggest drop in England and Wales. It is thought that Operation Shield has contributed significantly to this success with an estimated 1,300 fewer victims and a saving to victims of more than £2.5m in a seven-month period alone.
The initiative was also mentioned as HMIC graded the Constabulary as ‘outstanding’ in the area of crime reduction.
Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Boycott said: “Operation Shield is not just about placing a protective shield around our homes and places of work, it is also about making its mark on those who profit from these crimes.
“It has and continues to help us build stronger and more resilient communities by making homes less attractive to those who want to cause harm, as well as playing its part in expanding schemes such as Cheshire Alert, Home Watch and Rural Watch in our rural communities.
“Having a criminal enter your home and take your possession is often a very upsetting and unsettling experience. Criminals who make their living from breaking into homes and business and stealing other people’s possessions now know that across Cheshire, Operation Shield will provide officers with essential evidence to bring them to justice.”
Operation Shield uses a forensic liquid containing DNA unique to each property. It can be used to mark belongings, allowing it to be returned to the owner no matter where it is recovered from. Offenders committing crime can also find themselves marked with the forensic liquid – which stays on their hair, skin, and clothes and cannot be washed off.
Every person arrested in Cheshire is screened under a special ultra violet light in custody – if they have committed a crime in an Operation Shield area, they will be marked, and the unique DNA will link them directly to the individual crime scene.