Dutch McDonald's Uses Artificial DNA Spray To Track Thieves

Anyone who reads this site regularly knows that fast food restaurants are prime targets for the criminal element. Now McDonald’s eateries in the Dutch city of Rotterdam are using a new-fangled way to fight crime — spraying crooks with a so-called artificial DNA that can be used by authorities to identify them.

As hamburglars make their way out of the restaurant, they are sprayed with a fine mist, almost identical to human DNA, from a wall-mounted box. The spray contains specific markers that help police to link the criminal to the crime.

According to local police, in addition to assisting them in identifying the suspect, the mere existence of the DNA spray has cut down on robberies because possible perps think twice when they hear they’ll be coated with a fine mist of the stuff.

“The whole thing is prevention, not about recovering stolen goods or capturing criminals,” said a rep for the company behind the DNA spray. “The material is identical to human DNA, though there is a different sequence of components.”

Unfortunately, there have been several incidents of accidental spraying both at McDonald’s and at other businesses using the spray. So let’s hope they get these bugs sorted out before anyone gets the idea of employing this deterrent stateside.

McDonalds tracks burglars by spraying them with ‘artificial DNA’ as they make their getaway [Daily Mail]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Dre' says:

    Nothing a little bleach or ammonia can’t get rid of.

  2. scoosdad says:

    The DNA components in it are very tiny golden arches.

  3. shepd says:

    Wow, the Euro must have died out if the thieves are stealing bags of pound sterling in Rotterdam. :)

  4. midwestkel says:

    I guess I’m a little confused on how this helps? So the fake DNA is seen under UV light so the cops just walk around at night shining people? Or is this so if they think they have the person who did it all they need to do is swab his skin and be like “yar, this be the man who go sprayed with the DNA”? What happens when you shower does it come off?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’m guessing it works somewhat like gun powder residue tests. It stays on you for a certain amount of time and the police can swab or shine a light and determine whether that person was the thief.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Probably, and if they have a description and pick up a guy or gal close to that, then they can shine the light on him/her then.

        This is actually a pretty nifty idea.

    • A.Mercer says:

      I read the article and it said that the stuff is visible under black lights. I do not know why it has to be related to DNA in any shape or form. There are plenty of dyes out there that would give the same thing without having to get DNA involved. I am wondering if they are playing the deoxyribonucleic acid angle to scare people who don’t know any better. The perps who skipped science class might think that this DNA is impossible to remove or alters their genes or something. This security method sounds psychological. It does not actually offer the police much but the criminals thinks it does. It does not take them too long to figure it out though.

      The idea of using something that only is visible under black lights does not help this too much. That means the police would have to start using black lights on people in the area. If it is day time they will need to find a dark place to do their testing. What would work better is a bright red dye. Hit the guys with that and they are very visible without having to use a black light.

      • Arcaeris says:

        They use DNA because the sequence is changed for different stores. So if you catch a perp and he has a certain sequence on him, you can tie him to a specific store.

        If multiple stores using ordinary chemicals were robbed in the same night, how else would you know which store the guy you caught robbed? The DNA thing solves that.

        • jessjj347 says:

          Why exactly would the DNA stay on the perp? Wouldn’t this only apply if the cops caught the perp immediately? And at that point, aren’t there already witnesses and camera video available?

        • wickedpixel says:

          police departments are years behind on testing DNA in rape kits, but they have the resources to test DNA related to fast food restaurant theft?

    • joangabriel says:

      Its all about the sequence in the DNA. Since its artificial, once recovered can be sequenced and distinguished from any natural DNA source. It would be really hard to cause mutations to the DNA, by DNA…..I really don’t know how can it stay for weeks on the robber skin though.

    • mackjaz says:

      In my experience, it seems that law enforcement generally knows the local idiots who commit most of the crimes. The problem then becomes how to prove that. Grainy surveillance footage and unreliable eyewitness information are not good enough. This makes it much easier.

  5. danmac says:

    It’s only a matter of time before the spray mutates someone’s DNA, and then we have a supervillain on our hands. Thanks a lot, technology.

    • Preyfar says:

      This is how the story of every other zombie movie starts, pretty much. They develop a DNA spray, and… poof.

  6. Xene says:

    It slowly turns you into the Hamburglar

  7. resu says:

    Someone should ‘shop Hamburglar on that sign with a burger icon on the sack.

  8. TerpBE says:

    I make my own DNA spray at home.

  9. diasdiem says:

    This is what happens when Multiple Miggs is your head of security.

  10. resu says:

    Someone should ‘shop Hamburglar on that sign with a burger icon on the sack.

  11. Mighty914 says:

    McDonald’s calls this DNA spray “the money shot.”

  12. Taed says:

    Dispensing DNA on people? In the US, McDonald’s would quickly end up as a registered sex offender. The “special sauce” defense won’t work in court.

  13. Sanspants says:

    Won’t somebody please think about the Fry Kids!!!

  14. Geekybiker says:

    I just want to see robotic taser turrets installed!

  15. stock2mal says:

    They probably have the employees mixing up batches of DNA in the back.

  16. msky says:

    I vote for Robocop in every McDonalds shooting anyone who buys anything!

  17. ShyamasriPera2 says:
  18. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Why use artificial? I go for natural quality and use Colbert’s Formula 429 Premium DNA Spray for tracking my criminals.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      It is artificial so that each DNA strain is unique to the establishment which squirts it on people … they can track the DNA to the specific place it came from.

      It would be like using a handstamp saying “This person was at the McD’s at this address, not at the gas station on that street.”

      But it is also primarily a scare tactic, people are afraid of DNA.

  19. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    So what you’re saying is they’re basically spooging all over the robbers? EWWW.

  20. rpm773 says:

    Tomorrow, the thief is engulfed in a spray of nanobots containing RFID transmitters. This will lead the cops right to where he’s hiding, at which point he’ll be arrested – if he hasn’t been devoured by the nanobots first.

  21. Why is this on Consumerist? says:

    Couldn’t you just fill it with pepper spray instead?

    • paf says:

      I’d take it a step further and be more economic on the solution — I would simply spray the used grease from the frying pan, after all, it contains ingredients only known to McDonalds ;-)….

  22. guymandude says:

    So what if I shake the hand of the criminal or just happen to bump into him at the grocery store? How could the police tell I wasn’t the perp? All you could establish is that I had contact with the perp. That’s it.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      Corroborating evidence.

      • guymandude says:

        I see. So if I’m a Dr and everyone who comes into my office complaining of back pain has change in their pocket I conclude it’s due to the change. It’s not corroborating evidence. That’s precisely the point.

  23. Boven says:

    Of course, a robber could go and steal the sprayer or the cannister inside it from a McDonalds and then later rob another McDonalds, being sure to spray people at tables and in the line thus marking everybody.

  24. golddog says:

    I’ll have the Gattaca Garden Salad and the Blade Runner Burger please…

  25. sopmodm14 says:

    cools, if there’s no sign, i’m just gonna look up, get sprayed, and sue

  26. JohnDeere says:

    give us our big mac back jack.

  27. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    ‘The material is identical to human DNA, though there is a different sequence of components.’

    Identical to Ebola only different. Identical to Madagascar Screaming Cockroach DNA but with a different sequence.

    Once you’ve changed the sequence, it’s not anywhere near ‘identical’ since most living things are but a few percent different anyway. (And yes, I know Ebola is a virus and therefore not technically a living thing.)

  28. Hoss says:

    If I robbed a store in Rotterdam and got sprayed, it doesn’t make me guilt of every robbery where this was sprayed. How is this effective?

  29. vastrightwing says:

    I kind of liked the CIA’s method of planting a radio active isotope on a perp.

  30. ScandalMgr says:

    Why wouldn’t an adaptive hamburglar just use a painters (full body) suit and mask?

  31. Mcshonky says:

    When your head becomes as big as the Grimace’s you’ll never rob anything again.

    Can’t you just go home and was your clothes and self.

    Better yet, wear cheap clothes that you throw away after the robbery and hide out in your lair until the dna dissipates.

  32. james says:

    So, now every time McDonald’s gets robbed, they will now also have a plate-glass window broken out so that the culprits can avoid the DNA mist device.

  33. hotcocoa says:

    If it’s accidentally spraying people, what’s the point? Doesn’t sound very reliable to me…

  34. Rena says:

    “the mere existence of the DNA spray has cut down on robberies because possible perps think twice when they hear they’ll be coated with a fine mist of the stuff.”
    I should think it’s also cut down on customers. Whether I were a robber or not I wouldn’t be setting foot in a place that used this system. Eww.

  35. gman863 says:

    Fake DNA. The mere thought of it makes me Grimace.

  36. Plasmafox says:

    So… they advertise it… and what it does… and it’s obvious where it’s placed…

    What’s to stop the thief from simply breaking a window? Most restaurants I’ve seen have huge windows to let more light in during the day. Especially if the building was built specifically to be a restaurant. Even if it’s plate or multipaned glass, a simple center punch can make short work of it.

  37. MysticYoYo says:

    DNA Spray = Old fryer oil. Can be detected at 20 yards.

  38. gargunkle says:

    I read this site every day, and I would dispute the notion that fast food restaurants are great places to steal things.