Surry Police officers

Burglars are being warned that Surrey Police is homing in on them as the force distributes thousands of forensic marking packs for householders to use in a bid to stop crime.

The initiative dubbed ‘Operation Shepherd’ has seen over two and a half thousand households protected to date with forensic traceable liquid, across five ‘hotspot’ areas with a previous high incidence of burglary.

Each of the SmartWater packs comes equipped with a clear bottle of solution that carries a unique forensic code and is only visible under ultraviolet light.

Once marked with this solution, regularly-targeted valuables, such as tablets, laptops and jewellery, can be irrefutably linked back to the owner in the event of a theft and subsequent recovery by the police.

The five hotspots involved in the initiative – Caterham, Englefield Green, Sunbury, Stoneleigh and Woking – are in close proximity to London, where the Metropolitan Police are rolling out SmartWater packs to 440,000 homes and have already seen burglary fall by 36% in the protected areas.

This fall in crime across the capital and in other surrounding areas using forensic traceable liquids is likely to have contributed to the spike in incidents observed across the hotspot areas in Surrey.

Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman explained: “We have clear evidence that the use of these types of marking kits has successfully cut the number of burglars trying their luck with domestic burglaries. In fact, those forces which have trialled these kits have seen a dramatic decrease in residential burglary across their patch.”

“Surrey Police similarly wants to prevent such crime and my message to would-be thieves is, we’re getting smarter and we’ll be able to trace you by footprints, handprints or whatever else you’ve left your mark on and stop you in your tracks.”

“All of our officers are equipped with a UV torch which will enable them to identify stolen goods and trace them back to the owners’ address whilst also assisting them in identifying the offender.”

Residents have been shown how to make best use of the security products and the scheme is supported locally by signs promoting the use of the traceable liquids. Householders are encouraged to display a window sticker which aims to act as a deterrent to opportunist burglars. In fact, independent research shows that 74% of criminals said they would abandon criminal intentions where they saw a SmartWater deterrent sign was on display.

Operation Shepherd is set to run for six months and providing the scheme has proven successful, Surrey Police will look to introduce more packs across the county.