DNA technology will help track down Christmas tree thieves

Bournemouth Echo: TREE FELLAS: PC Simon Hallam, rear, and PCSO Steve Willis with Vic Plowman at Plowmans Garden Centre TREE FELLAS: PC Simon Hallam, rear, and PCSO Steve Willis with Vic Plowman at Plowmans Garden Centre

A POLICE officer is intending to stamp out Christmas tree thefts by introducing secret tracking equipment and DNA technology this winter.

PC Simon Hallam, Safer Neighbourhood Officer from Verwood Police Station, says that every December, across East Dorset, Christmas trees are taken en masse to be sold on to unsuspecting customers.

However, after bringing together local garden centre owners to discuss the problems they face, he decided that something more needed to be done, and now nine local owners have signed up to Operation Pine.

He said: “We’ve got DNA kits, signs going up, increased patrols in the area, and tracking equipment which can be installed if needs be.”

He added: “Before, when this has happened, we have just been able to have increased patrols, but that isn’t enough.

“The thing is, when you look at the prices of real trees, the cost can run into thousands.

“Some places were even thinking of reducing the number of trees that they ordered in, so that fewer could be taken.”

Operation Pine includes the use of DNA security marking, an invisible liquid solution, which will be painted on to specially-selected trees, and can remain in place for two to three weeks.

The garden centre owners will place the marked trees out at night, when closed to the general public, and then, in the event, somebody picks one up, the solution would transfer on to their skin or clothing.

A police officer can then use a UV light to make it show up, when a suspected tree thief is questioned.

PC Hallam said: “As well as DNA security marking, we may consider planting tracking devices into some of the Christmas trees, which works through GPS using a phone signal, so that we could look up its location.

“East Dorset Crime Prevention Panel has subsidised the DNA security marking, and we are working in partnership with East Dorset Crime to provide posters, leaflets and signs.

“One garden centre in the area is also buying up a lot of covert motion detector cameras as well.

“The message to residents is that if you are buying a Christmas tree this year, then think about where you are buying it from.

“We are also sending out a clear message to the less reputable places who are selling on Christmas trees, that something will be done about this.”

  • If anybody witnesses any suspicious activity around an East Dorset garden centre, call Dorset Police on 101

Comments (7)

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5:50pm Thu 29 Nov 12

muscliffman says...

Well that is the trees sorted, meanwhile in another day at Boscombe..........
Well that is the trees sorted, meanwhile in another day at Boscombe.......... muscliffman

8:14pm Thu 29 Nov 12

Hobad1 says...

Is it April Fools Day ? 'Cos this has got to be a P ! S S take. What does the average tree cost...a tenner ? and how many are stolen...a hundred ? that's 1 grand. Even multiple it five-fold and that's only 5 grand. How much has the effort cost to do this ? One day we get fantastic news about a great job done by our great police force in Dorset apprehending an alleged violent/serial sex offender, the next day we get this. Violent/Serial sex offenders versus christmas tree thieves.....i know which i'd rather my taxes are spent on. Sorry for my rant, but i think the police do a great job in very challenging conditions, and then we get this mickey mouse story.
Is it April Fools Day ? 'Cos this has got to be a P ! S S take. What does the average tree cost...a tenner ? and how many are stolen...a hundred ? that's 1 grand. Even multiple it five-fold and that's only 5 grand. How much has the effort cost to do this ? One day we get fantastic news about a great job done by our great police force in Dorset apprehending an alleged violent/serial sex offender, the next day we get this. Violent/Serial sex offenders versus christmas tree thieves.....i know which i'd rather my taxes are spent on. Sorry for my rant, but i think the police do a great job in very challenging conditions, and then we get this mickey mouse story. Hobad1

10:12pm Thu 29 Nov 12

BBC Escapee says...

Thanks for the tip off, will make sure I take my portable UV light detector out with me if I intended to go out and rustle me some Christmas Trees.

Serously, fair play looking for a stolen Christmas tree must be like looking for a needle in a haystack!
Thanks for the tip off, will make sure I take my portable UV light detector out with me if I intended to go out and rustle me some Christmas Trees. Serously, fair play looking for a stolen Christmas tree must be like looking for a needle in a haystack! BBC Escapee

3:14am Fri 30 Nov 12

gti90* says...

pathetic news story if you can call it that go find some real criminals
pathetic news story if you can call it that go find some real criminals gti90*

8:07am Fri 30 Nov 12

Morrigan says...

Is this story for real? Day after day we read of people's homes being burgled, cars broken into and vandalism galore, yet time is spent on fitting GPS devices to Christmas trees?!!!

I can understand it costs the business a great deal of money to have their tree stock stolen - but surely it is up to them as a private company to install any devices/marking fluid at their own time and expense?

We had our garage broken into once - could I have a team of Police Officers round to my home pronto to security mark all my property and install GPS devices incase it happens again please? Oh and perhaps if it does, you might bother to come out to take a statement and finger print it/search for clues next time too!

This story is beyond belief! :o//
Is this story for real? Day after day we read of people's homes being burgled, cars broken into and vandalism galore, yet time is spent on fitting GPS devices to Christmas trees?!!! I can understand it costs the business a great deal of money to have their tree stock stolen - but surely it is up to them as a private company to install any devices/marking fluid at their own time and expense? We had our garage broken into once - could I have a team of Police Officers round to my home pronto to security mark all my property and install GPS devices incase it happens again please? Oh and perhaps if it does, you might bother to come out to take a statement and finger print it/search for clues next time too! This story is beyond belief! :o// Morrigan

9:29am Fri 30 Nov 12

Imaximus says...

Is this operation being headed up by special branch?
Is this operation being headed up by special branch? Imaximus

10:33am Fri 30 Nov 12

pete woodley says...

Hobad, we agree again.Who released this story.
Hobad, we agree again.Who released this story. pete woodley

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