City-wide SmartWater rollout
The campaign is being launched as summer approaches — a time when house burglaries traditionally rise because people leave their windows and doors unlocked in warmer weather. The scheme is being backed by Southampton Safe City Partnership as well as second-hand electrical and jewellery shops across the city who are determined to cut the number of break-ins.
Officers have already started to visit homes of those particularly at risk to hand out the free forensic kits to householders so they can mark their valuables with the colourless solution which can’t be seen by the naked eye. The liquid contains an individual chemical code and shows up under ultraviolet light allowing police to trace the owner or an address.
UV detection lamps have been given to stores in the city so that staff can help identify any stolen goods which are covered in SmartWater and may have come from a burglary.
Detective Chief Inspector Kath Barnes, head of CID in Southampton, said: “We’re sending out a message loud and clear that Southampton is closed to burglars. There’s no point chancing it. If you burgle from a house in Southampton you could be stealing valuables marked with SmartWater and you will be caught.”
Burglary victim Peter Gallagher from Bassett, had his home ransacked earlier this year and sentimental items were stolen from his wife and children. He said: “There is no doubt in my mind that a high percentage of stolen goods land up at some time in a pawnbrokers, antique or second hand dealers, even if they have been sold on any one of a number of internet auction sites beforehand.
“Given that any items marked with the SmartWater are categorically linked to a specific owner, home or business property at the very minimum this gives a glimmer of hope of its return. The places that the burglars have to sell will become fewer and therefore the possibility they will be caught will be more likely.”
Police will be giving SmartWater kits to people vulnerable to burglary or who live in areas that have particular problems with the crime.