McDonald's will now be using a new DNA spray to trace thieves and robbers who target the franchise's restaurants. The spray, called SelectaDNA, which remains on the suspect's skin for two weeks and on clothes for up to six months, has been introduced in some of the chain's busiest stores in New South Wales in Australia.
If the 'forensic marking' spray proves successful in apprehending criminals, McDonald's will introduce the system across all its 780 Australian outlets. Developed in the UK by a police officer and a chemist, the spray has been used by McDonald's outlets in Britain and Europe.
Each outlet keeps the details of its distribution a close secret, but one McDonald's restaurant in The Netherlands installed above the main door an orange device, which was electronically linked to a panic alarm system. Staff could activate the device in an emergency.
"Once there has been a security breach, the hi-tech spray unit will douse fleeing robbers with an invisible, synthetic DNA solution," News.com.au quoted McDonald's Australia's chief restaurant support officer, Jackie McArthur, as telling the Daily Telegraph.
"The solution is invisible to the naked eye and unique to each location. It stays on clothing for up to six months and on skin for up to two weeks," she said. Using a UVA light, police can see the markings left by the system and link the offender back to the scene.
SelectaDNA director David Morrissey said that the spray contains a synthetic DNA strand composed of 60 variable chromosomes. "SelectaDNA is non-toxic, non-allergenic and perfectly safe to deploy. It meets all Australian standards," he said.
Theft is a serious problem for fast-food outlets such as McDonald's, which has high cash turnover, multiple entry and exit points and more than 85,000 staff who often work through the night at truck-stops and other remote places. In a single week in September, two hold-ups occurred at a McDonald's outlet at Merrylands in Sydney's west.