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Thief Busted by Green-Faced Giveaway

Friday, October 4, 2013

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It’s not easy being green—especially for robbers doused with an invisible coating that turns them neon lime under ultraviolet light.

Police in the United Kingdom recently had success catching a thief with the liquid, called SmartWater, whose technology incorporates unique forensic codes.

Yafet Askale, 28, broke into June 10 to a "trap" car that police in Harlesden, UK, had set up earlier in the year. When Askale stole a laptop and other items from the car, he activated the colorless, odorless liquid system and was coated in the substance, according to the Metropolitan Police.

SmartWater anti-theft
Photos: Metropolitan Police

Police in the UK say SmartWater, a clear liquid that shines green under ultraviolet light, helped them nab a thief who had broken into a trap car.

After Askale was located, ultraviolet lights showed that he was covered in the substance—colorful evidence that he had, indeed, broken into the car, police said.

"The trap car forms part of an overall crime reduction strategy designed by SmartWater, which is an effective weapon in the armory of tools that we routinely use in Brent," said Brent Police Detective Inspector Madeline Ryder.

"We will continue to target those who are insistent on committing these types of offenses."

Caught Green-Handed

Askale was charged with theft and pleaded not guilty in a court appearance July 22. After a trial Sept. 27, he was found guilty of theft from a motor vehicle and was sentenced to a community order for 49 hours and £400 in costs.

Brent Police say they have been recently working with SmartWater to use trap cars and trap houses to deter thieves from committing crimes, as well as catch those that do.

Residents in Harlesden have been given free kits to mark their property, "which has seen them enjoy an 80 percent reduction in burglary and a 40 percent reduction in street robbery," police say.

Metropolitan Police

Brent Police have started giving residents free kits to mark their property with the liquid and say crime in the community has decreased.

"Brent Police say very clearly to any would-be thieves, 'Don't come to Brent: Our trap cars and trap houses are waiting for you,'" Ryder said.

Over 1,000 Busted

SmartWater, from SmartWater CSI LLC in Fort Lauderdale, FL, is an "asset protection system in the form of a clear liquid which contains a unique forensic code that is extremely robust." The product is guaranteed to last a minimum of five years in all weather conditions, according to the company.

The liquid is applied to items of value and leaves a long-lasting identifying mark that is invisible until under ultraviolet black light.

A small fragment of the liquid can later be taken off of stolen property and sent to the company's forensic laboratories, where it is analyzed to identify the owner.

According to the company, more than 1,000 thieves have been busted due to the liquid, including three men who broke into a jewelry store in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and a man in Riviera Beach, FL, who broke into an unmarked bait car set by police.

The company claims more than one million users of the forensic marking technology, including major organizations like British Telecom and Shell Oil, who are reportedly using the liquid to protect metal and cable infrastructures.

The technology has also been used by Network Rail in England's West Midlands region to protect railway cable.


Tagged categories: Criminal acts

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