A thief who ended up stealing a specially ‘marked’ traceable tablet from a police sting car has been jailed for a number of thefts in Colindale.

Jonathan Henry, who has no fixed address, fell foul of a three-month operation by police in Barnet to reduce thefts from vehicles. A police ‘sting’ vehicle containing a tablet marked with SmartWater forensic liquid was parked at various locations across the borough to tempt thieves and track them.

After a spike in the number of such thefts in Colindale, police parked the car in Silkstream Road. On May 13 at 8.42am, a motion alarm was activated when the SmartWater-marked tablet, which had been left on a handbag in the passenger seat, was picked up.

Using an app, police were able to trace the tablet, supplied by SmartWater’s Special Operations team, all the way through Silkstream Park, eventually ending up at a flat in the nearby Grahame Park estate.

Police visited the address and were told by the resident that a man who matched Henry’s description had sold him the tablet.

Around a month later, on June 14, Henry was spotted by an off-duty police officer in Booth Road, Colindale, trying car door handles.

He was charged the following day, June 15, with six counts of motor vehicle interference, one count of theft from a motor vehicle, five counts of theft from a shop, possession of a knife and refusing to provide a sample for a Class A drug test in custody.

He pleaded guilty to all charges at Harrow Crown Court on Tuesday (July 17) and the judge sentenced him to a total of 19 and a half months imprisonment.

PC Marcus Hanvey, from Barnet’s Crime Reduction Unit, said: “This is another excellent example of the thorough work completed by officers in Barnet. By using the sting vehicle technology, we were able to charge Henry and put him before the courts.

“The technology forms part of an overall crime reduction strategy designed by SmartWater, which is an effective weapon in the armoury of tools that we routinely use on the borough. We will continue to target those who are insistent on committing these types of offence.”

SmartWater Chief Executive, Phil Cleary, said: “Our specialist team work in partnership with police on ‘sting’ operations like this throughout the UK, to create fear within criminal fraternity of the SmartWater brand. SmartWater’s operational strategy goes beyond simply returning stolen property to Owners, as our proven track record as a deterrent stops property being stolen in the first place.”

This operation forms part of the Metropolitan Police’s MetTrace project which has seen 1 in 7 London homes protected with SmartWater.

Each bottle has a unique forensic signature which can be applied to valuables such as jewellery and electronic goods, aiding their return and proving ownership in the event of a theft.

The project itself has already seen a 24% overall reduction in burglaries across the capital (more on this here).