Chemical coding system is smart way to beat crime
A HI-TECH anti-thief weapon is being piloted in city homes in what are considered to be burglary hot spot areas.
The sophisticated Smartwater is a clear liquid that contains unique chemical codes.
One small bottle of liquid is used to mark a person's property, with each phial containing a different code – akin to a DNA signature – which is assigned to that person.
Smartwater fluoresces yellow under UV light, so that when stolen property is recovered the owner can be identified.
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It was developed some years ago and has been used all manner of security situations, including the protection of valuable telecommunications cabling.
Other police forces have used it as a deterrent, advertising its use in areas, which deters thieves from targeting goods.
It is also considered to be invaluable in linking suspects to stolen property and crime scenes, making successful prosecutions more likely.
The pilot is being launched by the Community Safety Partnership, which includes Plymouth City Council and Devon and Cornwall Police.
The exact locations of its use is being withheld, but police have said it will first be employed in areas which have suffered a high percentage of burglaries over the past two years.
Custody suites in the city's police stations are being fitted with UV lights, and police officers will be carrying UV torches which they will use when searching suspects.
Councillor Chris Penberthy, cabinet member for co-operatives and community development, said: "I know from personal experience that the intrusion into your home can be very traumatic.
"We want to reduce crime and the fear of crime, and make Plymouth a safer place in which to live.
"Smartwater has proved hugely successful in other cities in reducing burglaries, so I'm very pleased that we are trying it out here."
Sergeant Jane Alford-Mole, of Plymouth police, said: "We are working closely with our partner agencies to tackle burglary in the city, and we hope that by using Smartwater in this pilot scheme we will see a significant reduction. Smartwater has already been used in other force areas to great effect.
"It gives us the means to link a suspect to a specific property that has been burgled and to stolen items, and it is regarded as an effective deterrent."