When battery thefts suddenly increased in Tulare County, California, the county’s Ag crimes unit were eager to find the suspect.
Once again, they turned to SmartWater – after having previously used the award-winning forensic technology to ensnare a pair of farm equipment thieves.
This invisible, forensic liquid was applied to a selection of agricultural equipment and placed in a location that detectives suspected would be targeted next. Each liquid contains a unique forensic fingerprint that can be used link marked property back to the owner and criminals back to the crime scene – this has led to hundreds of thieves being convicted in court.
It didn’t take long before the equipment was taken, and a separate tracking device led them to 21-year-old Everardo Sarmiento, who was promptly arrested.
Detectives found a battery in his possession as well as other stolen property inside a stolen car.
Traces of SmartWater, which glows yellow-green under UV light, were found on his hands, card and on the equipment itself – irrefutably placing him at the scene of crime.
Sarmiento’s arrest is only one of a handful detectives have made with the help of SmartWater’s cutting-edge technology and this is clearly having an effect on the local criminal fraternity, with Tulare County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Chad Rhyman saying that the department’s Ag crimes unit has seen at least a ten percent decrease in cases since sharing this tchnology with local farmers.
WATCH – Californian police snare battery thief in SmartWater sting
“It’s a definite deterrent and it’s a good deterrent because the criminals and the bad guys they don’t know when they go to steal that piece of equipment out in the middle of nowhere, they don’t know if it’s marked with SmartWater, if there are cameras on them, so they think twice before they go into a ranch or farm that’s labeled with SmartWater,” said Rhyman.
SmartWater may be covert in nature, but Rhyman says farmers are helping themselves by hanging signs in clear site on their property, warning would-be thieves their valuable product is protected with the technology.
Many Ag thefts are opportunistic in nature as the the equipment is often unsecured and left out in the open. But thanks to SmartWater, Rhyman believes that opportunity may not be so favorable for suspects anymore, at least the smarter ones.
An interview during one of the investigations-the suspect was asked, ‘If you knew they had Smartwater there, would you have still done this?’
‘No, no way.’ the offender responded.
Detectives are not sure if Sarmiento is responsible for all the recent battery thefts, but if there are more, they know the trail won’t go dark.