New crime fighting tool for St Albans

23 September 2010, 14:19 | Updated: 23 September 2010, 14:54

A new crime fighting tool is being used in and around St Albans.

SmartWater is a liquid which is painted on things like TVs, DVD players and jewellery, and leaves a unique, virtually invisible DNA-style forensic mark on the property.

If the item is subsequently stolen, it can be held under an Ultra Violet light, which will reveal the SmartWater code. This is then matched against a database, which contains the owners' details and can identifiy where the property has come from.

It's hoped by making it well known that St Albans City and District has become a SmartWater protected area, criminals will be deterred from committing burglaries there in the first place - as it's now easier to prove if an item's stolen property.

Ruth Dodsworth - the St Albans Safer Neighbourhoods Inspector - told Heart:

"I have no doubt that criminals coming in to the area will see the SmartWater signs and the fact that St Albans City and District is protected with SmartWater products and will think twice about coming to burgle."

According to the company which provides the SmartWater, it has helped reduce crime levels in other areas which are already using it. SmartWater Chief Executive, Phil Cleary said:

"SmartWater is well known to the criminal fraternity as it has successfully been used to convict more than 1,000 offenders to date. SmartWater also maintains a 100% conviction rate, having never lost a case when its evidence has been presented in court."

Inspector Dodsworth says they are hoping to see results from the scheme almost immediately:

"Any addresses that we search for suspects in custody, we'll be using the Ultra Violet torches to search for stolen property. So from now on we are implementing our strategy to reduce crime."

The Community Safety Partnership in St Albans has invested £10,000 in the SmartWater, and says that will allow hundreds of properties in burglary hotspots in the area to be protected against the crime.

The SmartWater may also be used in covert operations by police to help determine if an individual has been involved in a crime. It can be deployed through a hidden spray system, which marks the offenders' skin and clothes. Once it's dried SmartWater is virtually impossible to remove and any traces will glow under a UV light. Criminals can therefore be linked to a crime scene.