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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 May, 2003, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
DNA-style water plan to fight theft
The effects of the spray
The effects of the spray stay on clothes and the skin for weeks
Police in Bristol are making a splash by using state-of-the-art technology similar to DNA profiling to catch unsuspecting crooks.

The SmartWater project uses chemically-enhanced water to help safeguard property and spray thieves and burglars with an indelible solution.

Telford-based company SmartWater Technology has developed an innovative chemical coding system which when applied to an item of property, gives a unique DNA-type reading.

It can also provide police with evidence of any given offender's involvement in a particular crime.

The innovative system is activated when a burglar breaks into a premises or a car.

They are showered in the water-based solution that is extremely difficult to wash off and enables later identification using ultra-violet light.

I firmly believe that it will have a marked impact on crime and will act as a deterrent to both burglars and car thieves."
Sgt Jason Price
The solution contains a unique 'forensic fingerprint', glows green under UV light, and samples can be sent to a forensic laboratory for analysis.

It can pinpoint the exact house or vehicle the suspect has broken into and the evidence is permitted in court.

Special ultra-violet lights have been installed at Trinity Road police station in Bristol, designed to pick-out those offenders who have been exposed to a SmartWater activation.

Each prisoner will be given a leaflet making them aware that SmartWater is now being used in Central Bristol district.

Research undertaken on behalf of West Midlands Police found a 30 % reduction in burglary on an estate in the West Bromwich area where SmartWater was used.

"We are hoping to encourage as many people as possible to take on this new initiative," said Sgt Jason Price.

'Marked impact'

"I firmly believe that it will have a marked impact on crime and will act as a deterrent to both burglars and car thieves."

"We only need the slightest speck of SmartWater to trace property or identify an offender.

"Once marked the solution becomes permanent and is impossible to remove without damaging the property, thereby destroying its value to any thief."

"It will stay on skin for weeks, we check each prisoner on entering custody, which means if it is found on their skin or clothing during the search, they will be arrested for crimes which could have been committed weeks or months before."

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