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Burglars beware: High-tech, crime-fighting liquid is ‘invisible and silent witness’ to theft

🕐 2 min read

A Maryland police department near Washington D.C. is touting an invisible liquid that carries a unique forensic code as a high-tech tool to fight crime and track stolen valuables.

The Prince George’s County Police Department in Maryland is the largest in the nation to launch the use of the SmartWater technology, which is designed to link criminals to stolen goods and crime scenes with a traceable liquid that is invisible to the naked eye but detectable using fluorescent black lights.

The technology will act as a deterrent to would-be thieves who might see signs in front of someone’s home indicating that they use the SmartWater product, said Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski. He added that it will help authorities make more arrests and convictions.

SmartWater is “a silent and invisible witness that means that offenders can be tracked back to that crime days, weeks, even years later,” Stawinski said Wednesday when the department announced the launch of the technology. “We can build those cases and hold them accountable.”

Each bottle of SmartWater contains a unique code that is registered to the owner, said Phil Clearly, the CEO of SmartWater. The liquid, which is difficult to remove and withstands burning or bleaching, can only be detected using UV light. Law enforcement can send a sample of the dried SmartWater scraped off an item to a lab in Florida, where technicians will trace the owner.

“It’s like DNA unique to each household,” Clearly said. “All our scientists need is a speck.”

The U.K.-based company, not related to Smartwater beverages sold by Coca-Cola, said that the product has been responsible for more than 1,000 convictions and is in use in more than 30 cities across the United States. Company officials also said that police departments in Europe and the United States that have a SmartWater program in place have reported significant property crime reductions.

Residents who use SmartWater pay $4.99 a month to mark up to 10 items, Clearly said.

Residents interested in SmartWater kits can go to

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