Smart Water

No, really. It's liquid with a unique identifier that is linked to a particular owner.

Forensic Coding combined with microdot technology.

SmartWater has been designed to protect household property and motor vehicles. Each bottle of SmartWater solution contains a unique forensic code, which is assigned to a household or vehicle.

An additional feature of SmartWater Instant is the inclusion tiny micro-dot particles which enable Police to quickly identify the true owner of the property.

The idea is for me to paint this stuff on my valuables as proof of ownership. I think a better idea would be for me to paint it on your valuables, and then call the police.

Posted on February 10, 2005 at 9:20 AM • 36 Comments

Comments

Israel TorresFebruary 10, 2005 9:49 AM

In other news... DeFiltrator: An Ultraviolet detection system customized for the "Thief of Tomorrow (ToT)" allows *instant* detection of UV marked items, even before entering the premises.
Don't get caught with your pants down - Order today!

*disclaimer: just don't look up at night when all those black helicopters are spraying the cities.

If you haven't already check out Discovery Channel's "It Takes A Thief" series
http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/ittakesathief/about/about.html

Roy OwensFebruary 10, 2005 10:38 AM

Painting your property with identifying microdots sounds reasonable, providing law enforcement will cooperate, but you will have to pay the cost of testing recovered items to prove your case.

However, if the carrier is clear, I could walk in with a spray bottle and, while examining the recovered stolen goods, paint the ones I want. Let dry, light up the UV, and the police will assist me in committing my perfect crime.

Painting intruders with identifying microdots is not as good as exploding dye packs, the latter of which works with ambient lighting, while UV illumination is required for the microdot carrier. Somebody who is sprayed with the clear carrier and gets away will likely scrub up thoroughly and launder his clothing. The dots freed in the laundromat washer are now free to end up in other customers' laundry, which is not 'irrefutable proof' of their 'attendance at the scene of the crime'. Worse, after the crime, cops will be tracking the stuff all over the place, getting it on their clothing, carrying it to their cars and beyond, including to other crime scenes.

If you borrow my jacket and hat to stick up a bank, then return my stuff without laundering it, Security Solutions would insist that their product's presence on my clothing was irrefutable proof of my presence at the crime. This is just good sales pitching, not honesty.

Like all forensic evidence, there are no timestamps here. The appearance of a dot anywhere says nothing about how it got there or when.

Thomas SprinkmeierFebruary 10, 2005 7:54 PM

A few years ago neighbourhood watch was urgin us to engrave our valuables, using our drivers license number.

I always wondered what would happen if you legitimately sold an item, then claimed it was stolen.

At least with the engraving the buyer had fair warning that the item was marked, they could then perhaps ask for a signed proof-of-sale.

This stuff is great: walk into your local pawn broker and start shopping!

TomasFebruary 11, 2005 3:39 AM

Bruce, I think you missed the point of the original article. Sure, you are right that the technology as means of protection for the general population is not workable. The point of the article regarding the use in Croydon was that it was used where a property was repeatedly burgled (i.e., the thief cleans out your house, waits couple of months for the insurance company to pay out, you replace the items, and s/he comes back). Presumably, the police often has an idea who the burglar is, but are unable to prove it. Tagging items in such a property with unique id's by the police (not the owner!) in order to be able to link the suspect to the crime in the next round makes sense.

Bruce SchneierFebruary 11, 2005 2:40 PM

To Tomas: Yes, I get that that's the point. There is a security benefit in tagging items that you own. I just wanted to point out the potential security abuses.

Phil ClearyFebruary 14, 2005 4:00 AM

Hi Bruce,

I'm Phil Cleary, co-inventor of SmartWater and former police detective.

You've found us out - well done! The SmartWater 'fatal flaw' is real - just buy a bottle and paint it onto other people's property - simple!

Hang on a minute... there's even no need for you to buy SmartWater - just get a UV pen and write your post/zip code on. Or, even better, just note the serial number and claim its yours! No expense at all (I wonder why nobody else has thought of this....it's so easy! ;)

Regards


Phil

Ian EiloartFebruary 14, 2005 4:22 AM

How about you just steal my gear, then paint it with your smart water?

To prevent disputes, the smart water should know the date that it was applied. If it had a limited shelf life before application (say six months), and had its date of manufacture embedded in it - then you'd have limited window of opportunity.

David PachecoFebruary 15, 2005 10:00 AM

It's a "clear liquid" that contains unique identifiers, that part I get, but what I don't get is from this quote from the CEO of the company:


"It was born out of my frustration at arresting villains you knew full well had stolen property, but not being able to prove it," he said.


"Just catching someone with hot goods, or a police officer's gut belief a suspect is guilty, are not enough to secure a conviction -- so we turned to science."

How it's supposed to anything BUT prove that the goods are hot, and hopefully return them to the owner, is something I'm not clear on yet, any more than a serial number registered to an owner would do the same. Yes, the SmartWater may be harder to remove than a S/N sticker, but all you're proving is that the person in question came in contact with the object in question: it doesn't prove anything more than just catching them with the hot goods in their possession. It may be the case that they are claiming that the deterrent factor plus the tracking identification are the real benefits, but they're sure obfuscating by quotes like the above, which seem to imply that this product is the direct (not indirect) solution to the problem of catching someone with hot goods and not being able to secure a conviction.


Eh, who am I kidding: it's all advertising, and I'm complaining that it's not 100% revelatory. Might as well complain that the sun is releasing photons.


The other part that's not clear from the article is: if this SmartWater (or Tracer) works, and everyone starts using it, isn't it reasonable to assume that you--the innocent person with friends who happen to own stuff valuable enough to be tagged--will end up covered with the stuff? Just by going over to their house and brushing up against their belongings, touching their stereo, riding their car? And if this stuff stays on for months (as they claim), you're tagged with these chemicals or "microscopic particles" for just as long. There's no contextual information on how or when or why you came into contact with the articles in question.


Think about it this way, too: yes, the person who stole your stuff now has chemicals on him/her that reference your ownership. However, so does everyone in the evidence room, the police officers who came in contact with it while trying to preserve the chain of evidence, your ex-girlfriend, the stranger who took the picture of you standing in front of the World's Largest Ball of Twine with your chemically-tagged camera...


I like the idea of unique, registerable identifiers that I can put on my stuff. I don't like the idea of tagging everyone who touches my stuff (regardless of intentions or permission, and ignoring the context in which they did so), any more than I would like the other side of this particular coin: tagging every individual with chemicals that would slough off onto everything they touch.


Here are some more great ideas if you get hold of this stuff:


- Stay at a hotel and spray it on the sheets and the remote control

- Spray it on your laptop, then go to an IT conference and shake hands with everyone you can.

- Take a big can of it into Best Buy. Spray at will.

- Spray some on the elevator buttons in your office

- Public swimming pool. 'nuff said.

- Spray it on the toilet seat, then call the police and watch your friends squirm as they try to explain why they have a 32" plasma TV identifier on their butt.

PhilFebruary 15, 2005 11:35 AM

Dear David,

I suspect you may be confusing two products one, the property identifier, that dries bone hard and two, the intruder identifier, which is sprayed at the time of the intrusion.

Trust me, criminals do not like property that is too hot to handle e.g that is easily identified and too difficult to make unidentifiable. Ask any police officer - they're the guys at the sharp end. Or, you could ask a criminal, if you know any?


Phil

PhilFebruary 15, 2005 11:44 AM

If you don't believe me about the benefits of SmartWater, you may be convinced by this story from West Yorkshire Police released yesterday (link: http://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/section-item.asp?sid=12&iid=1240):

Press Releases
Domestic Burglary Reduction in Todmorden



Monday, February 14, 2005

Police in Todmorden have the �solution� for beating burglars.

Since the introduction of �Smartwater� into the town there has been an 84% drop in domestic burglaries.

�This is brilliant news, the facts speak for themselves and reflect the hard work by officers in reducing crime in an area which affects people where they feel vulnerable - in their home", said DCI Martin Jordan, Crime Manager for Calderdale Division. "So far we haven't seen an increase in other types of crime locally, which does suggest that thieves are thinking twice before coming to Todmorden."

During the four month period, from the start of the Smartwater project in October 2004 to the end of January 2005, there were a total of 24 domestic burglaries recorded in Todmorden, compared to 152 for the same period the previous year.

Smartwater kits, which allow belongings to be security marked with a unique personalised chemical, are being distributed free of charge to all 4,000 homes in Todmorden.

Residents have been receiving personal visits from uniformed police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) who have marked up valuables for them and offered crime prevention advice.

DCI Jordan obtained the funding for the project. �The opportunity to undertake work of this type in Todmorden will, I am sure, in the long term achieve results. We have already seen massive reductions in domestic burglaries in Todmorden and that is not only down to Smartwater but to the hard work and commitment of the officers and police staff who are employed on a daily basis visiting people�s homes and installing this crime prevention solution.�

�We are not simply undertaking a quick hit by installing Smartwater, we are using the opportunity to spend quality time with householders. The officers not only provide the solution free of charge but also offer crime prevention advice and often supply simple crime prevention kits whilst undertaking home surveys.

�The public have been magnificent in their support of our work and clearly the crime prevention message is literally getting home to people. It also gives householders the opportunity to tell us what they really want from their local police. This will clearly allow us to tailor our policing style to meet community needs.�

A dedicated team of officers who all live and work locally, the Burglary Reduction Unit in Todmorden (BRUT), is responsible for the day to day running of the project, managed by Sgt Joanne Flexney.

"We accept this is not purely about Smartwater but is about working with our partners to make a real difference to people�s lives in Todmorden,� she said. �The local community beat officers and PCSOs must take a lot of the credit as well as my own team. They have worked hard over the last four months and the results are very pleasing so far. We still have a long way to go but, hopefully, the public can see what we are trying to achieve and will support us."

Calder Valley MP Chris McCafferty made a visit to the area this week to see at first hand the impact that the Smartwater project has had on residents lives. She was given the opportunity to see officers in action installing the solution in homes.

"I am delighted that there has been such a large reduction in domestic burglaries since the introduction of Smartwater," she said. "I saw for myself on Monday the Smartwater system, after joining community police officers as they visited local homes and it is an excellent preventative tool. Together with the community beat officer and the three PCSOs allocated to Todmorden, we are beating burglary in the area."

Smartwater has already been shown to have had a great impact on burglaries where it has been employed elsewhere in the country. The chemical solution which is used to mark property is unique to the household for which it has been mixed and carries its own DNA code. When goods which have been marked with the fluid are recovered after a burglary the fluid can be examined under a microscope where the code can be read and the true property owner quickly identified.

Ends.


Professor Martin Gill of Leicester University established that you are 5 times less likely to be burgled if you live in a SmartWater area.

Don't be so cynical!! :)

Love


Phil

David PachecoFebruary 15, 2005 1:36 PM

It's entirely possible that I may have been confusing the two products. In my defense, I was going off the information in the Wired article (http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,66595,00.html) and the main product pages of the SmartWater web site (http://www.smartwater.com/products/securitySolutions.html), which do not state that the SmartWater product dries/hardens to a point where it will not come off the property in question. The references to "water" and "liquid" would imply the contrary (especially given the existence of a product that is a spray and does *not* harden), but that might just be a marketing or labeling issue.

The Wired article noted above (which I should have referenced in my previous post, my apologies) doesn't even mention the Index Solutions product (which is the spray-at-intrusion stuff) by name, instead naming only the Tracer/Instant products. However, I think my problem with the article is that it (in my opinion) implies that you can get the benefits of the Index Solution (close to guaranteed conviction jail time for the unequivocably identified perp) with the Tracer/Instant products. The Index Solution product isn't even mentioned by name, and yet many of the quotes ("It's practically impossible for a criminal to remove; it stays on skin and clothing for months", "Now, if a suspect caught with a stolen VCR turns green, they can't claim they got it from some bloke down the pub") are actually clearly referring to Index Solution, not the Tracer/Instant products that are the ones mentioned by name.

As another example of potentially misleading data, whether intentional or not, the statement in the article that:

"Word on the criminal grapevine, say police, is that anyone stealing from a coded home is likely to leave the crime scene having pilfered an indelible binary sequence that will lead only to jail time; it's not worth the risk."

seems confusing in the context of the above: the concept of "indelible binary sequence" is true only of the Tracer or Instant products since the spray (Index Solution product) is not "indelible": difficult to remove, yes, but not indelible. And yet the quote claims the benefits ("lead only to jail time") really only applicable to the spray technology, which is not mentioned by name.

You must also agree that comments left in this particular blog have made it clear that others are confused by the same issues as well. Again, I make no claim that this confusion is an intended or unintended result, and I am perfectly willing to provide the benefit of the doubt.

Whether it is feasible to have all homeowners install a system that sprays intruders and thus provides all these benefits depends on cost: is it more or less expensive than a similar alarm/notification system, the stickers for which also serve as a significant deterrent? I can't see a spray system being any less expensive, and I can imagine it costing significantly more (just based the cost of sensors, directional nozzles and pressurized containers of fluid located at the right entry points, vs. just sensors and a wire to a central point).

As Mr. Schneier always mentions, it's an equation that takes into account incremental reduction of risk vs. incremental increase in cost, wnere cost *includes* the price but also other has to take into account other effects: on privacy, freedom, anonymity, etc. I suspect homeowners will go with whatever will get them "sufficient" deterrence and protection for a reasonable "cost".

The article mentions SmartWater being given away for free in certain areas, but I had assumed that is the Tracer/Instant product, and not the intruder-marking spray setup. I don't disagree with the concept of this suite of products potentially reducing crime where implemented: I am questioning the cost equation.

Curt SampsonFebruary 15, 2005 10:28 PM

Thinking about it, I can see how the tracing stuff you paint on your goods could work quite well.

It's sort of the opposite of fingerprints. Rather than being left by the perpetrator at the scene of the crime and identifying him, they're carried away by the perpetrator and identify the victim.

And like fingerprints, these markings are not proof of crime. When my house is burgled, the police are quite likely to find my friends' fingerprints all over; that doesn't mean they committed the crime.

However, what this can provide is an audit trail for goods, allowing you to find out who has previously been in contact with an item in some way. This is useful because of the way the law works in many areas: if you are in possession of stolen property, it's not yours. If the owner finds out where it is, he gets it back, even if you paid money for it. Purchasers of items have an incentive to talk to previous handlers of it to see if the item is legitmately in the possession of the person selling it. If I'm buying a cheap VCR from someone, it's in my interest to check with people who have sprayed it to see if it was stolen or not.

MosesFebruary 17, 2005 12:37 AM

I see two problems.

I gather that this system is invisble to the naked eye. How would a criminal be deterred by something they don't know is there. Wouldn't it be better to either have it visible (not attractive) or otherwise advertise to criminals that you are using this system to dissuade them from stealing.

Assuming the user uses a system that hardens on the object. If the user advertises the fact that the system is used or even if the theif suspects then couldn't the substance be removed. I would assume that this is to be used for things like big ticket items. What if I use this stuff on my priceless painting. Obviously I wouldn't actually want to paint it on the painting itself because it would devalue it or maybe even harm it. I would paint it on the frame or back. If I was a thief and even suspected this system was being used I would remove the painting from the frame and backing or the case from my computer.

Phil ClearyFebruary 17, 2005 7:05 AM

Some good points there, particularly in relation to the journalist's article and the confusion its caused. To be fair to him, he was on a tight deadline and could only afford a brief conversation with me.

SmartWater is a proven deterrent - not a property recovery service - hence its roll out by the police across the whole of the UK. It is also a strategy, not just a number of different products.

The strategy (called S.A.S.) has three main components:

1. Standardise - the police should standardised on one system of marking, one that is generic across all property, difficult for the criminals to defeat and easy to detect. By doing this, officers are less confused by the multiude of different type of marking systems, become enthused, start checking property more effectively leading to a raised anxiousness within the criminal fraternity about handling the property.

Advertise - unless the criminal knows about the risk associated with a particular security device, its not a deterrent. The unique forensic nature of SmartWater is like a magnet to the media and we train the police on how to capitilise on this interest to broadcast their messages to the criminal fraternity. The Valentine's Day initiative is just one example of how we 'educate' the criminal fraternity very quickly.

Sustain - we only work with police forces that are willing to make the necessary changes to infra-structure and policy to ensure that the deterrent impact is sustained. The fitting of black light UV detectors in custody suites, mandatory checking of property, police engaging with the 'receiver' community e.g. pawn brokers, 2nd hand dealers are all important components of the overall strategy that increases the pressure on the criminal. Their normal outlet for stolen property is squeezed tighter, the desirability of SmartWater marked property is reduced - we're effectively 'spoiling the prize' of their efforts.

Add to this police covert operations using the SmartWater spray system, with successes publicised to the hilt, and you begin to see SmartWater as a cohesive crime reduction strategy that employs a fair degree of psychological warfare.

The reference point for the development of SmartWater was the famous R v Pitchfork case in 1986, when mass DNA profiling was used for the first time to detect the rapist/murderer, Colin Pitchfork.

The publicity surrounding the use of this new forensic technique was massive with coast to coast TV coverage. Guess what, - incidents of rape for the following year dropped for the first time in recorded history. Coincidence? or evidence of the fact that forensic science - traditionally a reactive service for the police - can, if handled properly, be used as a proactive threat against sections of the criminal fraternity.

The SmartWater strategy, as detailed briefly above, is now way past the 'neat idea but will it work' stage here in the UK. The question is - will it translate well in the USA?

I'd be grateful for your comments.

Thanks


Phil Cleary
Troublemaker

David PachecoFebruary 17, 2005 4:48 PM

Phil,

From your post: your quotes between the dashes.

---------------------------------------
1. Standardise - the police should standardised on one system of marking, one that is generic across all property, difficult for the criminals to defeat and easy to detect. By doing this, officers are less confused by the multiude of different type of marking systems, become enthused, start checking property more effectively leading to a raised anxiousness within the criminal fraternity about handling the
property.
---------------------------------------

Absolutely. And the obvious way to make it *desirable* and *feasible* for everyone to standardize is to make the standard one that is not tied to the fortunes, market desires, customer service attitude or whims of one particular company. So, I for one will welcome your announcement making the patents covering your technology free for use for all interested parties. :)

Now, I didn't say you wouldn't charge for the supplies, goods or services you sell: just that you should offer the patents to the public good and generate no licensing-based revenue from their implementation by third parties. Otherwise you become a monopoly, and we here in the U.S. don't like monopolies: we send toothless Departments of Justice to lightly slap the wrist of people who implement them, so be forewarned.


---------------------------------------
The publicity surrounding the use of this new forensic technique was massive with coast to coast TV coverage. Guess what, - incidents of rape for the following year dropped for the first time in recorded history. Coincidence?
---------------------------------------

Entirely possible, to be honest. I would never say that publicity is ineffective, but the profiling technique is still in use, correct? Have incidents of rape *continued* to decline in the intervening years? Did they ever go back to previous levels?

I think this particular issue is a bit of a red herring, since while advertising new forensic tools is unquestionably an effective deterrent in general, that doesn't mean that advertising your particular product is. There are massive, massive differences between something like mass DNA profiling (and, incidentally, its impact on other costs issues like privacy) and the products and services your company sells, so claiming that the success of one technique undeniably guarantees the success (or even validity) of the other is... well, a bit of hand-waving, in my opinion.


---------------------------------------
The SmartWater strategy, as detailed briefly above, is now way past the 'neat idea but will it work' stage here in the UK. The question is - will it translate well in the USA?
---------------------------------------

I think that, while my comment above is only slightly tongue-in-cheek, how you answer the above question on standards is vital to answer the translation question. There are a million and one different ways to secure your property in the U.S., and only one in a million is a household name (Lojack comes to mind). While you could argue (correctly) that Lojack is an example of a successful company that uses a proprietary product/service, it is only one of many, *many* companies that have attempted (and in most cases, failed) to sell property protection and/or recovery goods and services.

As to your last question: I think that the *technology* has the potential to translate well, and even be wildly successful in the U.S. I cannot make the same guarantee about your company, simply because the odds are completely different (it's nothing personal). That is why I, as a consumer, would prefer to see a product and set of services available from multiple vendors, so that there is innovation, healthy competition for my dollar, and no major affect on me when any one company folds up shop: I can just transfer my service to the next one. Your use of the word "generic" in reference to standards--in the first section I quoted above--is important. Yes: generic enough that if I get poor customer service from Company A, Company B is willing to take up the slack.

Again, nothing personal against you or your company, and I wish you the best of luck. Personally, I believe Americans are far more interested in getting their stuff back than in securing a conviction, so you'll get more orders for the Tracer/Instant product than the Index Solution, but that just may be the way you want it: the Index Solution seems oriented towards businesses anyway. But you can be one of a thousand niche players with proprietary services and 10 clients, you can be one of a hundred mid-size players with non-proprietary services and a hundred thousand clients, or if you're really lucky and the market forces align *just* right, you *might*, just *might* hit the LoJackpot.

And of course, you know I wrote all my posts and comments above just so I could say that.

Phil ClearyFebruary 18, 2005 6:01 AM

David,

From your post: your quotes between the dashes...

.......................................
Now, I didn't say you wouldn't charge for the supplies, goods or services you sell: just that you should offer the patents to the public good and generate no licensing-based revenue from their implementation by third parties. Otherwise you become a monopoly, and we here in the U.S. don't like monopolies: we send toothless Departments of Justice to lightly slap the wrist of people who implement them, so be forewarned.
.......................................

Agreed - slapped wrists are not good - even if lightly applied. Consequently, we have established a 'not-for-profit' company (yes, that means we don't make a profit) to supply socially deprived or highly vulnerable people (the elderly) with free or heavily subsidised kits. The remainder of the community can select from the array of different competing systems (over 140 in total) on offer.

.......................................
I think this particular issue is a bit of a red herring, since while advertising new forensic tools is unquestionably an effective deterrent in general, that doesn't mean that advertising your particular product is. There are massive, massive differences between something like mass DNA profiling (and, incidentally, its impact on other costs issues like privacy) and the products and services your company sells, so claiming that the success of one technique undeniably guarantees the success (or even validity) of the other is... well, a bit of hand-waving, in my opinion.
.......................................

Agreed - but SmartWater, as a result of the recognised deterrent decay, specifically does not mirror the DNA profiling PR experience, which was a news story - soon to become yesterday's chip (french fries) paper.

We have designed a rolling programme of PR events that can be held within a community to ensure that SmartWater stays at the fore-front of criminals minds. Have a look at our website and you'll see the police employ it vigorously, with great and sustainable success.

.......................................
Personally, I believe Americans are far more interested in getting their stuff back than in securing a conviction, so you'll get more orders for the Tracer/Instant product than the Index Solution, but that just may be the way you want it:
.......................................

Disagree. I believe that Americans are just like the Brits in that they don't want to be burgled in the first place. SmartWater is a proven deterrent.

.......................................
But you can be one of a thousand niche players with proprietary services and 10 clients, you can be one of a hundred mid-size players with non-proprietary services and a hundred thousand clients, or if you're really lucky and the market forces align *just* right, you *might*, just *might* hit the LoJackpot.
.......................................

I've trademarked that! :)

Over the years, we've resisted overtures from various US corporations to distribute SmartWater in the USA.

Our preference is to assign formula rights to various companies for them to compete within the marketplace, in terms of service provision and price. We seem block out, say, a million formulae to a company, instigate a technology transfer so that they can manufacture themselves and let them all get on with it.

SmartWater would become a base level operating system onto which various other target hardening features could be built, a bit like an operating system for computer software.

We're looking for a US Corporation that has experience in operating this way, that is both morally run and managed and, as a result, is well regarded by the American public...do you know any? :)


Phil

SuperjohnDecember 20, 2005 3:38 AM

So can I just get this clear please....?

If my employer paints my work PC with smart water, does it end up all over my hands / clothers / car / home? Or does it harden to the point where transfer is minimal?
There is a privacy concern here. If the smart water from my work PC transfers to me, it can be used by my employer to track me in the workplace. They would simply check door handles etc for smart water and see who's codes are present(based on their computer).
Am I worrying about nothing?

John, UK

ChrisNovember 18, 2006 10:07 PM

My greatest fear with SmartWater is that people see the words "forensic" and "tracer" and immediately think of things like fingerprints and DNA and imagine that you have a foolproof way of linking a person with a crime. It must be foolproof - it uses forensics and science, right? We've all seen CSI.

So Joe Bloggs is in court, suspected of handling a stolen laptop from his workplace. He has SmartWater on his skin, and that's the proof that he handled it. The jury are wowed by the science and Joe goes down because he touched the laptop at some point. We see this all the time - unwavering trust in stuff which involves science or computers. Indeed SmartWater capitalises on this in the form of instilling fear in the minds of criminals, and the site mentions DNA to just hammer the forensic bit home.

If the police started prosecuting people for having traces of drugs on their banknotes, 90% of people would go to jail. I understand that 90% of all banknotes are contaminated in this way. The contamination proves nothing about where the drugs came from.

But with SmartWater it's the same, except now there's this unshakeable belief that the presence of SmartWater means the person has been up to no good because of phrases like "forensic tracking".

I can see some value in SmartWater but I think we need to be careful in the prcoesses used, and I don't like the way the company spouts vague and psuedo-scientific phrases to whip up that way of thinking. One day there will be a case where somebody innocent gets on the wrong end of SmartWater and nobody will listen to them because of the blind and very wrong belief that SmartWater equates to a person being at a crime scene. The prosecution will come out with phrases such as "billions to one" and "DNA fingerprinting", the jury will utterly buy into it, and that person is screwed.

Chris

nathanMay 31, 2007 9:46 AM

funny thing this 'smartwater'

lets see.......i buy a 42'' plasma from a bloke??
who is gona come into my house and take the tv away? the police right?
well how the **** would thay know i got a stolen 42'' plasma?
ok thay catch the bloke that stole it, he wont have any 'smartwater' on him b'coz it dry's hard and its impossible to get off right??
and hes unlikely gona say ''oh yeah, by the way i stole a 42''plasma and sold it to this bloke! he lives at.........!
if it drys hard the guy that steals it dont give a toss coz hes gona fence it asap! and if he does get arrested with the thing on him whats to say he dont say ''i bought it from a bloke, i didnt no it was stolen!?'
theres a great advertisment in the website and i think it great that thay have fool'd the old bill into promoting them. but it just dont work, yeah maybe you will get your stuff back but the police have to find it first and thats asking alot of them. thay cant just run into people houses and take random stuff! thay have to have a warrent and thay are not easy to get! what with wrongfull arrest.
the only way i see it working is if thay catch the guy at the crime walking out the house with the stuff in hes hands..............but why would i need 'smartwater' for that?? thay have got him in the act!
look im all for smartwater but i think its got to get abit smarter before thay make such big claims.

nay0

nathanMay 31, 2007 9:47 AM

funny thing this 'smartwater'

lets see.......i buy a 42'' plasma from a bloke??
who is gona come into my house and take the tv away? the police right?
well how the **** would thay know i got a stolen 42'' plasma?
ok thay catch the bloke that stole it, he wont have any 'smartwater' on him b'coz it dry's hard and its impossible to get off right??
and hes unlikely gona say ''oh yeah, by the way i stole a 42''plasma and sold it to this bloke! he lives at.........!
if it drys hard the guy that steals it dont give a toss coz hes gona fence it asap! and if he does get arrested with the thing on him whats to say he dont say ''i bought it from a bloke, i didnt no it was stolen!?'
theres a great advertisment in the website and i think it great that thay have fool'd the old bill into promoting them. but it just dont work, yeah maybe you will get your stuff back but the police have to find it first and thats asking alot of them. thay cant just run into people houses and take random stuff! thay have to have a warrent and thay are not easy to get! what with wrongfull arrest.
the only way i see it working is if thay catch the guy at the crime walking out the house with the stuff in hes hands..............but why would i need 'smartwater' for that?? thay have got him in the act!
look im all for smartwater but i think its got to get abit smarter before thay make such big claims.

nay0

LizJune 8, 2007 4:37 PM

Does anyone know of long-term effects of smartwater on the skin? A friend works for a security firm and he & several colleagues got accidentally showered with smartwater from overhead sprinklers. They were told it stays on the skin for 5 years! A week later he's off work with asthma, bad headaches, sore & itching skin etc.
Liz

a personMarch 21, 2008 12:31 PM

Liz: I notice that Smartwater guy disappeared from the thread after your post.

ChrisApril 15, 2008 8:58 AM

Smart Water.

I think the idea is grand. I believe this idea would / will work when the masses adopt the technology. Assuming that painting this on your belongings will stop it from being stolen or, if stolen, found is simply an assumption. The real benefit would come not necessarily to the early adopters, but to the masses after it is well incorporated on a majority of items that are easily stolen and fenced. The criminal element must also have the realization that the stolen goods are possibly infected.
The bottom line is that if a thief is unable to sell off their booty, the thief will only steal what he/she can use. If pawn brokers and the like were willing and/or required to check for tagging on the items that they buy or pawn and refuse the items that are tagged and possibly listed as stolen, would the thief be more or less likely to get the quick buck they desire? I'm not even interested in tracking people down with the stolen goods. It is possible that people buy items that were stolen and they simply didn't know. Have you ever shopped ebay?
While I believe this would be a deterrent to the smash-and-grab thieves, the more organized criminal element may purchase the stolen items and market them directly to the end customer via. online auctions and sales sites.
My reservations are as many here have posted. Does this stuff, that dries bone hard, rub off on anyone touching the items? If best buy paints the stuff on their merchandise, then I paint it on after purchase, then when I give it to my parents when I upgrade and they paint it with their tag, then etc... at what point does the tag loose its meaning? Would a thief instead of stealing items from people simply steal their smart water? After a thief acquires a couple dozen different smart waters, mixes them up, then sprays everything, would it still be identifiable? It is likely that these questions could only be answered by spending a billion dollars and 10 years to find out. (That is 800mill to the government to administer the programs and 200mill to help subsidize the purchase of detectors and product.).

chris

GladisGladiatorMay 4, 2008 2:23 PM

I am a PI for more than 18 years now.
I have a few concerns about this "technology"

It seams that no one is willing to ask the question nor to provide an explanation on how does SmartWater contain an unique DNA, knowing that DNA is a material in humans and almost all other living organisms. Does the user drop blood in the SmartWater container he is about to use? Does he spit in it?

Now.. .. hypothetically
I stole an item that is "marked" with this stuff. Can I see it with the help of a UV lamp? Yes. Where does the marking resides? On the case of an iPod. Then the next logical thing would be to open the item and replace the case. Now the iPod belongs to me.(?!)
Next case scenario. I go to an auction house, I mark all the items I like and I wait for the day the auction starts.
I am monitoring who got the items I am intrested in, I follow them outside get their license plate number and I find their address. Two days later I am sending the cops to the auction house or the buyer and claim that is my stuff. Are they going to arest and send to jail the buyer? Are they going to prosecute the auction house for the crime of selling stolen property? How is SmartWater relevant in this instance?!?

Another case scenario. I represent a government agency that wants to frame Mr. X a "tree hugger". I have no evidence against him, but I want him taken down.

1) I penetrate in his home, I mark an item (expensive or not is not relevant in this case), I go the next day to the judge and I get a search warrant motivating an reliable information that Mr. X in a possession of a stolen property.

2) I find a way to spray this fluorescent stuff on him, the same stuff was used in the Silicon Valley micro-chips warehouse at that 2.5 mil heist last week.
There is no forensic way of telling the time the stuff was sprayed on someone so.. .. .

Imagine that... A bank robbery in progress and that stuff goes off. The robbers get their stuff and run out the door. So are the customers. Well... we have all the people inside the bank 30-40 potential robbers out in the street to look for as oppose to just 2-3. And if after a week the rubber is apprehended he can claim that was contaminated by mistake.


Now the funniest of all... ..

Does Mr. "SmartWater" Phill know that 85% of the alarms are false? Imagine that after 2-3 false alarms where that stuff goes all over the place you can use this in a court of law as evidence of " pilfered an indelible binary sequence that will lead only to jail time"


@ Phil
========================
"We are not simply undertaking a quick hit by installing Smartwater, we are using the opportunity to spend quality time with householders..."
=========================
...thus gathering valuable informative notes about the life style, political views, race profiles, etc.


==========================
"It's practically impossible for a criminal to remove; it stays on skin and clothing for months"
==========================
Hence everyone that is "glowing" is a CRIMINAL in SmartWater's people view.

By the way, sorry to burst the bubble but there is a way to alter the genetic sequence on this SmartWater stuff with some common household substances. I just a matter of time before this will become a public knowledge.


TommyJuly 28, 2008 4:19 PM

Don't put it on anything valuable as it can leave an ugly mark, and is a complete c*** to get off. more like shitwater

AndrewSeptember 28, 2008 6:40 PM

@ GladisGladiator,

For a PI you're not very smart; reading doesn't seem to be one of your strongest skills. Their website clearly refers to it as a "DNA style security system" and "Its forensic properties are similar to DNA".

http://www.lumleyjacobssmartwatershop.co.uk/

No mention of any form of human DNA involved! The tracer(s) they are using are probably some sort of polymer with a structure that is unique for each customer.

As for your auction house scenario, that would only work if you had reported the items stolen to the police before the auction takes place otherwise the police will probably suspect you of being a fraudster. The same applies for your first "frame Mr. X" scenario.

I feel sorry for your clients.


JJSeptember 29, 2008 5:14 AM

so in the future our beloved omnipotent government (bless their heart) will benevolently install a water identifier in every human dwelling. When the people then drink this water, their whereabouts can be tracked in the places where they stop to urinate.

It could open new avenues for identifying people. Example from year 2018:

COP: So you say you live on Avenue du Grammont 11?
SUSPECT: Yes sir.
COP: We will make sure of that. Here is a small test tube. Urinate into it, thank you.

Tomasz WegrzanowskiOctober 16, 2009 6:59 PM

It's not really dangerous, as it's unscalable. You'll be able to pull it off once or twice, if you fill third such report in a row, the police will see that something's wrong and will investigate you.

And the innocently accused might very likely have independent proof of ownership (what's often true with high value property), in which case it will fail even on your first attempt, and the police already knows who to prosecute.

High risk, can pull it off just a couple of times ever => it's not happening.

BradNovember 16, 2009 4:02 AM

Regarding Smart Water - unfortunately with all good security innovations , the public interest creates immediate wanting of the criminals to find a countermeasure .

One way is as mentioned -PC board drill from a local electronics shop and use one of the smallest drill bits and drill unique spots and document/photograph them in your records.

These criminals do not inspect the stolen property like the CSI labs - 99.9% they will overlook such small holes.

paulJanuary 8, 2012 11:33 AM

Funny how an idea stays with you. Bruce's quip on an alternate use of SmartWater:

The idea is for me to paint this stuff on my valuables as proof of ownership. I think a better idea would be for me to paint it on your valuables, and then call the police.
came to mind when I read this story.

Someone sold a violin using PayPal as the clearinghouse but the buyer complained it was a fake. Rather than simply work out a return and reimbursement, PayPal ordered it destroyed. Seems to me some griefers could set about buying old stuff and getting PayPal to reimburse them for destroying it. If I was a dealer it would be a great way to remove some competitive objects.


http://www.core77.com/blog/object_culture/the_paypal_controversy_over_destroying_counterfeit_objects_21467.asp

seanJanuary 26, 2013 1:46 PM

phil-
great product - great idea! dont lets all these negative comments get to you or your thought process. most of these comments seem to be coming from people who would argue anything you/people are trying to get into the market. if they have all the answers how come they dont own smartwater.
for some reason everyone seems to think you spray it on and it passes like the flu-why?
amazing company!

KarenFebruary 23, 2013 5:59 AM

does anyone know whether the varnish on my violin will be damaged by Smartwater? and how visibile will it be?
and can it be removed if I then sell my violin? (as the new owner obviously won't want my unique code on their new violin.)

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