Police crackdown on Beckenham plaque thefts
PUBLISHED: 13:21 15 November 2011
»Thieves who steal plaques from graveyards and war memorials are being targeted by a special police crackdown which uses an invisible marking system.
Officers are using a liquid called SmartWater which codes property with solution uniquely registered to the owner.
It comes after a recent spate of thefts of brass plaques from Beckenham Crematorium.
When placed under ultraviolet light the SmartWater liquid glows to reveal a unique chemical signature, meaning stolen property can be checked on a database and traced back to its owner.
Members of the Clock House safer neighbourhood team spent all day last Thursday (11) marking plaques at Beckenham Crematorium.
Sergeant Mark Shrubsole said: “The invisibility of SmartWater means that thieves and burglars are now at a much increased risk of arrest when committing offences in this area. Once SmartWater is on you, you might not know about it until you walk through our custody doors.
“Officers will also be carrying UV torches with them whilst out on patrol so those who commit crime will remain at constant risk of being arrested at any time.”
The SmartWater is also being used on war monuments. In August, Bromley Council replaced two plaques stolen from Penge war memorial with imitation metal material.
Orpington resident Terry Giles, a volunteer with the War Memorials Trust, said: “There has been an increasing number of thefts from war memorials as we know all too well with Penge war memorial. We are launching a project as the centenary of the First World War approaches called In Memoriam 2014. We will work with SmartWater and all war memorial custodians will receive the liquid for free to deter thieves.”
SmartWater can be used for marking high value items from computers to jewellery, is invisible to the eye and cannot be removed.