How traceable forensic marking liquids can help catch criminals

Avon and Somerset police are giving out 500 SmartWater home security packs to people in Worle.

People in Suffolk are being urged to use forensic tracing liquids to mark property - Credit: Archant

Farmers in Suffolk are being encouraged to use traceable forensic liquids to help deter criminals and protect their property. 

Sergeant Brian Calver, of Suffolk police's rural crime team, said marking liquids - such as SmartWater - can add an extra layer of security for farmers and rural businesses. 

SmartWater is similar in concept to DNA profiling in that each application is uniquely formulated. 

Sgt Brian Calver of the Rural and Wildlfe Crime Team in Suffol at the rural crime meeting in Lavenha

Sgt Brian Calver, from Suffolk police's rural crime and wildlife team - Credit: Archant

When applied correctly, it is virtually undetectable and almost impossible to remove, and can be used on valuable items and machinery. 

Sgt Calver said owing to the unique code of the liquid, stolen items can be clearly traced back to owners. 

"I believe the greatest strength of SmartWater is in the deterrent factor," he said.

"With marked property and signage, it sends a clear message to criminals. Thieves like to target property that presents minimal risk of detection, with maximum reward.

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"The presence of SmartWater really heightens those fears of detection and with its unique code, criminals know they can be forensically linked to a crime scene.”

The marking liquid can stay on a person for a long time, and Sgt Calver said police need to ensure those detained for searches are checked with UV lights. 

The colourless liquid enables police to reunite owners with their stolen property.

The liquid can be used on valuable items - Credit: Archant

“Many criminals don’t get caught in the act but they’re often encountered by police, which sometimes entails a stop search," he said. 

"SmartWater stays on the skin and clothing for a long time and is extremely difficult to remove. If a person involved in criminality is identified as having SmartWater on them, they have some questions to answer, as this will enable us to link them to the crime.

"All our centralised custody suites have large UV lights at detainee reception points and patrol vehicles also carry UV lights for checking suspects on the streets.

"We know that criminals have close networks and share information, so it doesn’t take long for the word to get around that police are checking for such forensic solutions and that’s where the deterrent factor comes in."

Sgt Calver urged farmers, landowners and residents to adopt the tactic to prevent crime and increase the chances of being reunited with stolen property. 

He added: "I don’t think anybody could argue that this represents good value for the peace of mind it provides, so I’d strongly urge farmers as well as other rural businesses to consider this as another layer of security."

Further crime prevention advice can be found on the Suffolk Constabulary website