Catching Crooks Green-Handed
Reported July 2009
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Move over CSI: There's a new way for people to protect their property before it's stolen and track down criminals if it is.
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SmartWater is used all over Europe and is now making its way to the United States.
Ernest Brice was getting ready to rent this home when his plans were interrupted.
"I saw that my windows had been broken in, in the rear of my unit," Brice told Ivanhoe.
Thieves stole his brand new appliances.
"The police never found out who did it," Brice said.
Now, a new technology developed by chemists is helping track down stolen property and put criminals behind bars. It's called SmartWater.
"The SmartWater would be administered onto anything you would want to protect or get back in case of a burglary," JoAnne Maltese, Forensic Supervisor at the Tallahassee Police Department in Tallahassee, Fla., told Ivanhoe.
Each vile contains a unique chemical code -- basically its own DNA -- and a microscopic serial number, information that's stored in a database.
"If this item is stolen or pawned and we find it, we would use an alternate light source, UV light to [illuminate] it and it will glow," Maltese said.
A sample sent to a lab confirms the registered owner. A canister of the solution can also be rigged to catch thieves in action.
"Once it was armed, when someone comes in step foot on the pressure switch, it would trigger the canister and deploy the SmartWater solution on the person," Christopher Allen Corbitt, an investigator at the Tallahassee Police Department, told Ivanhoe. "As they walked through, they're entire body would be sprayed."
It stays on skin for weeks and on clothes forever. In its first use outside the United Kingdom, the Tallahassee Police Department tested it for 11 months. During that time there was a 33 percent drop in crime.
"The year immediately preceding our pilot, there were 28 reported residential burglaries, and during the pilot that dropped to 14," Greg Frost, Executive Services Director at the Tallahassee Police Department, told Ivanhoe.
Using the science of chemistry to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.
The home coding kits cost $90. Kits for businesses can range from $4,000 to up to six figures a year.
This report has been produced thanks to a generous grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Tallahassee Police Department
Tallahassee, FL 32303
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