Burglars aren't being caught red-handed anymore, they're ending up marked by a black light-detectable liquid that's reducing crime, according to Boynton Beach police.
And thanks to a succesful roll out of the liquid in several Boynton Beach neighborhoods, the Police Department plans to give more of it to residents in other areas.
Boynton Beach police spokesperson Stephanie Slater said the city isn't stopping there — it's handing out more kits to more residents. The next area to receive them will be homes in Boynton Beach along Lawrence Road, in the Cedar Ridge, Nautica Sound, and Lawrence Groves neighborhoods.
SmartWater, a liquid solution with its own forensic fingerprint, can be rigged to sprinkle burglars with semi-permanent marks. Or homeowners and businesses can use it like a lip gloss and apply it to their products, laptops, heirlooms, or other property they value.
When the company behind the technology, SmartWater CSI opened its U.S. headquarters in Fort Lauderdale in October 2012, that city became the first in South Florida to buy kits for its residents in troubled areas.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, Riviera Beach Police Department, and Boynton Beach police all followed suit over the next year, offering kits to their own residents. Tallahassee became the first city in the state to use the technology in 2007, but the UK-based company was founded over 20 years ago.
In Boynton Lakes North, the first area to receive 500 kits of SmartWater in December, police are already reporting a 31 percent total decrease in burglaries since handing them out. That translates to a 38 percent decrease in residential burglaries and a 20 percent decrease in auto burglaries.
Between July 17, 2013 and Jan. 17, 2014, about a month after the kits were handed out, there were eight residential burglaries and five auto burglaries reported, according to Slater. But since Jan. 17, only three residential burglaries and one auto burglary were reported.
Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey S. Katz called the numbers encouraging.
"Our strategic partnership with SmartWater CSI sought to leverage state-of-the-art technology in a way that deters burglars, empowers our citizens, and adds a 'wild card' in favor of law enforcement when it comes to investigating property crimes," Katz said in an email. "As this strategy catches on throughout the county, I expect greater success for our community. Thieves beware."
But areas without the technology were still vulnerable.
Two cars and multiple homes in Ocean Breeze West, a 21-house neighborhood under construction, as part of a Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County project, were burglarized in March, according to WPTV Ch. 5. Afterward, Boynton Beach police donated 21 SmartWater kits for the neighborhood.
Mike Williams, Associate Director of Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County, claims they also stepped up patrolling in the area more frequently. "It was phenomenal on their part," Williams said.
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