Police today, 2nd December 2009 launched a new forensic system which can individually trace the criminal or stolen property.

The force is the first in Scotland to take up the SMARTWATER system region-wide to snare thieves.

To tackle recent rural thefts police have teamed up with local Farm Watch schemes and obtained the SMARTWATER property coding systems, which will be offered to Farm Watch members. Property marked by this new system will be uniquely marked and easier to trace.

SMARTWATER is protective marking system and a crime prevention and detection tool. It is a liquid based solution that effectively links the criminal to the crime scene.

Each location or piece of equipment covered by SMARTWATER has a forensically unique liquid, like a fingerprint. It is a new form of forensic science that is waterproof and has been used to success already in England with a very high conviction rate.

UV lighting is placed in police custody areas and property stores, if the criminal or stolen equipment is nearby, the liquid will be clearly visible. Offenders do not necessarily need to be located that same day, as the solution remains on skin until exfoliation occurs and is virtually impossible to remove from clothing or shoes.

The applied solution is clear and invisible to the naked eye, it cannot be scraped or burnt off and less than a pin head is required for identification purposes. It can remain on property for many years.

After marking equipment in homes or workplaces, the property owners would then register the use with the SMARTWATER database for identification purposes. Should property ever be stolen and recovered, the marking will assist the police to identify owners.

The solution is not harmful and is also available in spray canisters as part of an alarm system. This sprays directly onto any intruder when activated and offenders may not even be aware they have been sprayed.

These alarms have already been placed on some vulnerable premises within the region and will continue to be so where it is deemed appropriate.

Police Scotland see the introduction of this product to the region as another important tool in the aim of reducing crime and reducing the fear of crime.

Constable Alistair Mitchell, Crime Reduction Officer, Annandale and Eskdale area said: “In recent months there have been a number of thefts from rural farms and in particular quad bikes.

“The introduction of Farm Watch and the SMARTWATER marking kits illustrates how by working together with the community we will target and pursue these offenders.”

Superintendent Mike LeslieSuperintendent Mike Leslie, Community Safety said: “Criminals are notoriously lazy individuals who focus on easy targets. We would encourage the public to ensure their property is secure at all times and suitably marked making it difficult for criminals.

“The introduction of these systems will be an additional tool in preventing crime and warning the criminal that they will be pursued and caught.”

SMARTWATER is available commercially but by working with businesses, the public and the numerous crime prevention schemes operating in the region; the police, through the Community Safety Partnership, are able to assist in offering access to marking kits at a reduced rate. Should any members of the public, businesses or schemes require additional information they should contact their local crime prevention officer (Simon Kennedy, Castle Douglas Police Office).