SmartWater kit to beat burglars

The new crackdown aims to safeguard high-value items. Picture (posed by model): Ian Rutherford

The new crackdown aims to safeguard high-value items. Picture (posed by model): Ian Rutherford

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Householders in the east of the city are receiving a high-tech kit to prevent their prized possessions being stolen.

Police officers are issuing 800 homes in Duddingston with a security pack to help safeguard high-value items.

The crackdown comes after a pilot in 600 homes in Grange and Greenbank – which led to a 53 per cent drop in housebreakings.

The SmartWater solution carries a unique code only visible under UV light which is brushed on to items to link owners to the property.

Properties in the Durhams area of Duddingston were selected to receive the packs in response to residents’ concerns about housebreakings in the area.

Chief Inspector Mark Rennie, local area commander for the east division, said a wider housebreaking crackdown in the district had seen a reduction from 116 incidents to 66 in the April-September period in comparison to last year.

He said: “SmartWater works best when you have a large number of houses in a small area covered by it. Officers and environmental wardens from the council will be going out to the area to explain how to use it.”

Locals are recommended to mark their valuable possessions with the invisible ink, which provides a direct link between stolen property and the house from which it was taken.

In addition, high-visibility signage was put in place within the participating streets to alert criminals that SmartWater is being used in the households around that area.

Ch Insp Rennie added: “We are targeting Duddingston and will review that going forward. This is one of the many things we are doing around housebreaking just now. We have got a specific community investigation unit which looks at that problem. It’s the number one priority when you speak to residents in that area.”

Speaking at a special community surgery at the East Neighbourhood Centre on Niddrie Mains Road, the city council’s community safety leader councillor Cammy Day said: “We all have the right to feel safe and secure in our own homes, and the roll out of Smartwater to the Duddingston area of the city is extremely welcome.

“More than 91% of people living in Edinburgh feel safe after dark which is partly due to excellent initiatives like this, which show the Council, Police Scotland and residents working in partnership to create safer communities.”

Local councillor Maureen Child said she was delighted that Duddingston had been chosen to receive the innovative invention. Properties in Longniddry and Gullane in East Lothian are also receiving the solution, alongside areas elsewhere in Scotland.

Mrs Child said: “Targeting that area of the Durhams makes a lot of sense given the emails I receive about housebreaking.

“It’s also a way of trying to prevent crime, rather than dealing with it afterwards.”

SmartWater has also teamed up with Queen Margaret University to issue students with the packs to safeguard laptops and phones, while the technology can be installed in banks or jewellery shops to “mark” criminals.

There has been a 100 per cent conviction rate when SmartWater is used as evidence in the English and Welsh courts.

SmartWater’s Scottish business development officer Martin Graham said the invention was very effective in criminal hotspots, but also helpful in cases of lost property.

Mr Graham said: “Once it’s on a product, it’s on forever. You can also use it externally, on bikes for example, and this lasts for six years.”

The firm is also offering a discounted scheme for residents elsewhere, with SmartWater kits costing £25.