Special SmartWater-equipped “rat trap” vehicles are being put to work on the streets of Preston to counter figures that show two cars per day are being broken into.
Police in the Lancashire city are using the vehicles to catch thieves in the act by equipping them with high-tech devices, including night vision cameras, GPS trackers and infra-red alarms.
SmartWater sprays are triggered when thieves enter the cars, marking them with the uniquely-coded forensic liquid, which is virtually impossible for them to remove completely and ties them to the crime.
Officers revealed the use of the “rat trap” cars as part of a campaign to raise awareness of security among drivers and they released video footage of one of the cars being broken into which led to two 17-year-olds pleading guilty to stealing from a motor vehicle.
In 58 cases of vehicle break-ins recorded in the first three weeks of January this year in Preston, 21 of the cars had been left unlocked by their owners.
Sergeant Paul Whitehead, of Preston Police, told the Lancashire Evening Post newspaper: “The rat trap vehicles are now being used across the city. Valuables, similar to those stolen in recent thefts, are left on display in cars – in particular in areas where police see an increase in vehicle crime. The vehicles have the latest technology built in, such as night-vision cameras, GPS tracking devices and infra-red alarm systems which capture movement to and from the vehicle.
“They are also fitted with SmartWater – an anti-theft device which leaves a trace of
invisible liquid on people and items, allowing them to be traced to the scene of the
Lancashire Police is now one of a number of forces around the UK using SmartWater equipped vehicles to attract and capture car thieves, with wide success.