The world's first dog trained to sniff markings on metal is set to help police officers crack down on thefts of copper cables and stolen scrap in the UK.
Normally police dogs are trained to locate drugs or human remains, however a two-year old black Labrador called Jazz has been trained to locate forensic markings on a range of metals including copper, lead and aluminium.
The markings are pioneered by SelectaDNA who put a covert synthetic DNA marking on the metal which is then recorded onto a database. It's used by companies such as Network Rail to protect copper cable from metal theft.
Metal theft is costing the UK economy approximately £770m a year and there are about 1,000 incidents reported each week.
Jazz was originally a gundog at a farm near Blackpool in north-west England and it took Mick just two months to train her fully for her new role.
Her trainer, retired-police officer Mick Swindell, said: "Jazz is a world-first. As humans we can only search in 2D ie. in the line of sight, but dogs can search in 3D by using their noses. They can be incredibly accurate, and can pinpoint their target to within a couple of centimetres.
"Jazz is able to touch the marked metal with her nose identifying the target scent of SelectaDNA, allowing officers to move in at this point and make further investigations."
Complementing existing police search procedures, Jazz is able to sniff for stolen metal in places like scrap yards, where metal is often piled high and any containing forensic markings is not immediately visible to the human eye.
James Brown from Selectamark, the Kent-based security company that produces SelectaDNA, said: "Jazz could revolutionise the way we search for stolen metals and criminals themselves."
He explained: "Previously, officers had to search manually for marked metal which could prove time consuming and at times not successful as often the process was like finding a needle in a haystack.
"The combination of using a trained dog like Jazz to sniff out stolen metal marked with SelectaDNA is surely the ultimate search tool for police and any other investigators determined to catch metal thieves and other types of offenders."