Chesterfield Police say even the most intrepid burglar is no match for their newest crime-fighting tool.
The department has launched a pilot program to distribute free packs containing a forensic, traceable liquid known as SmartWater to homeowners in the Bayhill Pointe and Mason Woods subdivisions.
When applied to household items such as televisions, laptop computers and jewelry, even a miniscule amount of the high-tech liquid contains a unique chemical signature that can help police trace recovered stolen property back to its registered owner. And because the substance is undetectable by the naked eye – it emits a bright, yellow-green fluorescent glow only under ultraviolet black light – criminals have no idea whether they are stealing something that has been marked with the cutting-edge liquid or not.
“It’s like DNA, but for your stuff,” said Capt. Andrea Riesmeyer, commander of the county police department’s community services division, during a community meeting of Bayhill Pointe residents last Thursday night at Bailey Bridge Middle School.
“If we find the spot you marked on your flat-screen TV, we take a swab of that and send it to a lab in Florida for analysis. It will tell us who that television is registered to,” Carico said. “Two things happen: we can get that TV back to its rightful owner and we can seek charges against the person who has it for possession of stolen property.”
WATCH – SmartWater packs are being distributed to Chesterfield homes as part of a new crime reduction programme.
SmartWater was developed in the UK in the 1990s by a chemist and a retired detective. The company is responsible for hundreds of criminal convictions and has been proven to reduce burglaries by as muchs as 85 percent. In addition their asset protection kits, the company markets forensic spray systems for businesses and homes to spray intruders with the forensic, traceable liquid.
SmartWater has been available in the US since 2013, when the company’s US division, called SmartWater CSI, opened an office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
It’s no coincidence that Chesterfield is the first police department in Virginia to utilize the liquid. The county’s police chief, Jeffrey Katz, was the top cop in Boynton Beach, Florida, until last December.
According to a spokesperson for Boynton Beach Police, the city experienced a 70 percent reduction in property crime after the department began distributing SmartWater CSI to citizens in 2013.
“The best organizations continually challenge the status quo and seek out proven strategies to augment existing practices … and that’s what we are doing here,” Katz said in an email Friday. “Chesterfield County’s SmartWater CSI strategy empowers our community by disrupting the comfort of those who deal in stolen property.
“We want thieves to wonder what is marked, what isn’t, and what type of crime they may be tied to if they are found in possession of forensically coded property. Anytime you can stack the odds against folks who profit off the exploitation of others, it’s a win for our community.”
According to spokesperson Elizabeth Caroon, the Chesterfield Police Department purchased the SmartWater CSI kits for the pilot program – which retail for $50 apiece – by using asset forfeiture funds. There is enough liquid in each vial to mark 60 to 80 products.
Riesmeyer said the department will distribute the remaining free kits to interested homeowners in Bayhill Pointe and Mason Woods in the coming days. After the free kits are gone, people can purchase them using a promotional code for $42.50.
The Virginia Department of Transportation also will be posting multiple signs in both neighborhoods – clearly advertising the use of SmartWater CSI as a deterrent to people looking to commit property crimes there.
“It’s 21st-century crime fighting,” Riesmeyer said. “We have to stay ahead of the people who want to victimize us.”