Police using water to fight crime

SmartWater CSI, Fort Lauderdale Police Department announce US launch

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Police have a new crime-fighting tool: water.

SmartWater CSI, a United Kingdom-based company, announced the U.S. launch of its product on Thursday morning with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

The company offers customers a kit containing a liquid that is painted with a DNA-like pattern and is detectable under an ultraviolet light. Each user is provided with a unique pattern and sprays their valuables with the water, which leaves no visible residue or stain.

If something is stolen, investigators can then lift the pattern and run it through a database, helping them determine who owns the stolen property.

"But once we tell them this stuff is now traceable, they don't want to buy it. And that's how we squeeze the market," said Phil Cleary with SmartWater CSI.

"You think that a pawn shop is going to buy a SmartWater sprayed watch, or jewelry box or family heirloom?" said Fort Lauderdale Mayor John "Jack" Seiler.

The water can also be used to mark suspects. A business can be rigged with a system that sprays someone on his way out the door, allowing police to identify the suspect with a UV light.

"The forensic scientist only needs small speck, a speck to put him back in that liquor store at the time of the robbery," said Cleary.

Police plan on passing out 500 kits to homeowners in the South Middle River Terrace neighborhood in February.

The kits are available for purchase on SmarterWater CSI's website for $199, which also registers the pattern in the company's database for one year.

The SmartWater leaves a permanent invisible mark on clothes, according to the company. It's unclear how long it stains human skin and it doesn't come off with a simple wash.