Tallahassee, Fl., has been chosen as the U.S. test site for a British product that marks burglars and their loot with a clear liquid that glows a bright yellowish green when exposed to a black light, says the Tallahassee Democrat. Each bottle has a unique chemical signature, making it possible to trace sprayed objects and people back to specific crime scenes. Officers hope the liquid will help more than 3,000 residential, commercial, and auto burglaries that occur each year. There are concerns about police promoting a private company and about the technology’s impact on civil liberties. The idea of spraying “coded water on offenders sounds a little like Big Brother,” said public defender Nancy Daniels.
The Tallahassee Police Department received yesterday from city commissioners to create a partnership with the developer of the product called SmartWater. Homeowner protection kits will be distributed to 700 homes. The liquid comes in two forms: a quasi-permanent solution that residents can use to mark their property – CD players, telephones, televisions – and another solution that sprays burglars and car thieves and stays on their skin and clothing for weeks. Tallahassee police said the manfacturer suggested a partnership, saying the city is an ideal test site because it has a low crime rate, is technology-friendly and is a state capital.