Applied DNA Science’s smartDNA product is making waves in Sweden. Or perhaps we should say it is reducing them, at least if the topic is crime waves. In recent months, the test of our company’s smartDNA security system on a considerable stretch of Swedish railroad track by the Swedish Transport Adminstration has become very public indeed. The Swedish news site Sydsvenskan featured the initiative this week,. Television and other media attention has been frequent.
An information officer for the Administartion, Jonas Bengtsson, told Sydsvenskan that “a national effort is being made in cooperation with the police.” In fact, the police in Sweden have adopted smartDNA nationally in its own right as an aid in law enforcement. We hope to tell you more about that in the near future.
smartDNA uses the same uncopyable, plant-based DNA marker that is present in SigNature DNA and other Applied DNA Sciences products. In the Swedish railway test, smartDNA is applied to the track to deter rampant theft of copper, used in the conductors in the national rail system. If a thief were to attempt a robbery, the substance can mark both the stolen copper and the robber himself with an indentifying code.
Reported copper theft in Sweden during 2011 skyrocketed to 120 million kronor, or about $18 million USD. Theft of copper has also spread in countries like the United Kingdom and in the U.S. as the price of copper has soared since roughly 2009.
Deployment of an anti-theft DNA spray in Sweden has now spread to dozens of jewelry stores, where the threat of its use seems to be already having its effect. A group of ten jewelers had experienced seventeen armed robberies in the year before their deployment of smartDNA. In the year since, their accrued experience is down to three robberies, or an 83% decrement in crime rate.
New York Police Department spokesperson Edward Winsky told residents of the Canal St. area on January 27 that the police initiative against #counterfeits continues, but there are still "some conditions I (am not) happy with..."
At a meeting held at Police Precinct 1, representing Chinatown, Tribeca and other downtown New York residential areas, Winsky said the anti-counterfeiting measures and sweeps to find illicit goods have led to 2,796 arrests, more than 8,000 summonses, the seizure of nearly 35,000 counterfeit handbags and $60,000 in cash made from black market sales.
Counterfeit sales peak, but continue
Counterfeit activity peaked during the holiday season in the Canal St. "market," something which has been true every year recently. But there is plenty of activity, sometimes right out in the open. This blogger was approached four times during a three block walk down Canal St. one recent weekday. During the walk, a resident of the area pointed to police surveillance personnel on the roofs of two buildings. As we watched, we saw a group of men point at the police rooftop post and quickly disperse.
“We haven’t won the war,” Winsky told the meeting.
Bill would fine buyers of fakes
City Council member Margaret Chin, representing the area, introduced a controversial, but important, bill last year that would fine buyers, as well as sellers, of counterfeit and illicit goods. The bill is scheduled for introduction to the Council in early spring.
A country awash in energy wealth, Russia boasts numbers of newly-minted billionaires, while the upscale shopping streets of Moscow and other large cities are lined with stores selling the latest, most fashionable products produced worldwide. Or are they?
A Russian Interior Ministry investigation has estimated that up to a third of everything sold to consumers in Russia--most especially those glittering luxury goods-- are counterfeit. The fakes don't end at the all too normal handbags and running shoes, but extend to clothes, perfume, cigarettes, household chemicals and food, according to the Moscow Times. And this leaves aside the well-known plethora of digital piracy eminating from this region.
The phenomenon of the fake store, most recently seen in China's fake Apple stores, is widespread in Russia according the web site The Mark, a Russian business newspaper. Several supermarkets report counterfeit stores selling under their trade name, such as the luxury supermarket Aliye Parusa. At the other end of the scale, the discount house Pyatyorochka is widely faked.
Counterfeit Yves Rocher store
A fake Yves Rocher store operates in the Siberian republic of Tuva, even after the company complained to the local office of the Federal Consumer Protection Service, again according to the Mark
In fact, somewhat mysteriously, authorities such as the Consumer Protection Service claim that many fake stores are left operating because "it is difficult to prove that the counterfeiters broke the law," as spokesman Mikhail Anshakov put it.
Aside from faking the whole store, perfumes are a favorite target, including counterfeit items by Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Donna Karan and Nina Ricci.
In an indication of just how widespread the use of counterfeit parts are in the country, mechanics often refer to their use of 'leviye' — the Russian word for "left," which in slang means "fake."
Counterfeits and air disaster
Ominously, this includes the use of counterfeit parts in aviation. This perhaps leads us to another dark statistic: there were twenty-four major air crashes in Russia in the first seven months of the year alone. After a September crash which killed the entire championship hockey team Lokomotiv, President Medvedev pointed to the quality of equipment, urging the use of more equipment "from abroad."