Police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, unveiled a new plan to fight property crimes. The new crime-fighting tool is a liquid called "SmartWater," and can only be detected with an ultraviolet black light. Police officers plan to hand out 500 SmartWater kits to homeowners in the neighborhood of South Middle River. Residents can mark their valuables with the liquid. Once marked, police officers will be able to trace the belongings back their owners if the property is ever stolen. The liquid could also be used to mark a robber who just hit a store, etc.
"We are going to have officers out there with the UV light," said Fort Lauder Dale Police Chief (FA), "Its outside-of-the-box thinking." In addition to helping track criminals, the water may be used as a scar tactic to deter crime as well. Company officials have already placed signs around the South Middle River neighborhood warning potential thieves that homeowners have the new forensic technology. One resident (RA) is enthusiastic about the new, crime-fighting effort. "I think it's going to work," he said, "but you have to teach the criminals that this is out there first so they won't be stealing things."
The SmartWater company is based in Fort Lauderdale. Yesterday, the company gave a product demonstration at the police station. Now, they are marketing the company to local business owners, law enforcement agencies and homeowners. The company's founder (PC), said that the liquid contains rare-earth minerals and microdots with unique identification numbers. The identification number can be seen through the use of a telescope. The liquid is almost impossible to remove and should stay on an item or individual for five years.
Homeowners are able to purchase $200 annual "subscriptions," that come with the SmartWater liquid and stickers to warn potential thieves. Other plans are available for vehicles and boats. According to the SmartWater company, businesses will be able to install sprinkler systems in their stores to douse thieves in the act of stealing. After police identify a suspect, they can tell whether or not he/she was sprayed at a specific store. PC said, "The robber runs out and he gets prayed. If police catch him, they will be able to say that the spray came from the certain shop."
Although the product has not been tested in the United States, officials are hopeful that it will work. Apparently, the product was successfully used in England about 15 years ago. Since then, statistics have indicated a drop in property crimes. Mayor Jack Seiler hopes that the product will deter criminal activity in other ways, too. "You think that a pawn shop owner is going to buy a SmartWater-sprayed watch, a jewelry box or family heirloom? That pawn shop is going to say 'go take it somewhere else.' All of a sudden, that side of the theft market, the buyer side, will dry up." At this point, law enforcement believes that the product will help deter crime more than it will actually help them prosecute criminals.
In 2007, the product was introduced to the Tallahassee Police Department, where it yielded mixed reviews. "We didn't have much luck catching anyone," said a spokesman for the Tallahassee Police Department, "In theory, it's a great product and it's another tool police departments could use." Even still, the spokesmen said that residents should mark their valuable belongings – with an engraver or new technology like SmartWater. If you've been accused of a crime in Miami, a lawyer from our firm can help you understand your rights. Contact us today to see what a Miami criminal defense lawyer can do for your case.