Angling Trust/SmartWater Crime Fighting Partnership
During my days as a serving police officer, one of the most frustrating things was having to return property known to be stolen to the thief, in cases when, for whatever reason, the case could not be proven. Why? Invariably because the stolen property concerned, although recovered from the thief’s possession, say from a lock-up, was a mass produced item not uniquely identified to its owner. Power tools are a good example – stolen from vehicles or whatever, a ‘tea leaf’ might later be caught and other property discovered when his (or her) ‘drum’ was searched. If that property is marked in some way, perhaps with a post-code or engraved name, then it is unique to the owner and identifiable. If not, then, as a mass produced item there is nothing to link it to the crime, to prove beyond all reasonable doubt in a criminal court that this is one and same item reported stolen by Mr A.N. Other. In that circumstance, the only option available to the investigating officer is to return what is known – but cannot be proven – to be stolen property to the thief: who is laughing all the way to the next car boot sale.
This scenario, of course, applies to all mass produced items – including fishing tackle. Some anglers, I know, work in tackle development and have, therefore, unique items of kit, which can be identified for that reason, or have rods in particular made to their own individual specification. In the bigger scheme of things, though, such anglers and unique tackle are very much in a minority. The vast majority of fishing tackle is mass produced – and unless marked individually cannot be traced back or legally connected with its owner. Clearly, this is a problem requiring redress.
There are, of course, various means of marking property, including post coding or inscribing one’s name with a special marker pen visible only under a high powered Ultra Violet (UV) light. These things, of course, have been around for years – but are clearly not the entire answer – were they, theft would have gone away. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly post coding, whilst it certainly helps, links an item to a specific geographic area but not necessarily an individual – and what happens if the original owner sells the item on or moves (and forgets to update the post code on the property)? It was very popular at one time, and probably still is, to post code push-bikes. This is done by hammering a stamp into the frame – which obviously can’t be done to, say, a carbon-fibre pole! Using a marker pen on fishing tackle is equally problematic, because over time this fades – especially outdoors, when exposed for long periods to bad weather or sunlight. Marking property – and I would urge all anglers to mark their kit using any and every means available and appropriate – also relies upon the item being recovered by police following a theft, burglary or robbery. So, only part of the answer.
Obviously, not having kit stolen in the first place is the ideal scenario, and there are basic steps we can take to prevent crime and protect our property: substantial locks on doors and windows, not leaving kit in vehicles overnight, alarms, CCTV, being careful who knows about how and where your kit is kept – all the usual stuff – and, in anticipation of the worst, having appropriate and adequate insurance. It is, however, still difficult to stop a determined, rather than an opportunist, thief – and these people can be quite imaginative and resourceful in their modus operandi – and because tackle is a personal thing, often accumulated over years, it is difficult, sometimes impossible, to replace like for like. So, what’s the answer?
Well, there isn’t a cure-all, and that’s for sure, but after an immense amount of research into the various modern options available, and liaising with various police forces, we reckon to have found the best option available: SmartWater.
So, what is ‘SW’? In short, this is a cutting-edge forensic marker that is virtually impossible to remove, has a 100% success rate in the hundreds of convictions it has led to – and makes property traceable to its owner. Ground-breaking, in fact.
SW is a clear liquid invisible to the naked eye when applied to property – but glows bright fluorescent yellow under UV light. ‘Isn’t that the same as the marker pens?’ I hear you say: no, far from it.
Each bottle of SW has a forensic code unique to that particular customer. This is registered to said customer – so that should more be required, it is made up by SW’s laboratory to that exact specification. It is that, then, that makes property traceable to the owner – no questions asked – and no need to write your name, post code or whatever – simply applying SW to an item has the required effect.
Another clever bit is that marked property is registered by the owner on a form, like a vehicle log book, which SW keep a copy of. If the original owner sells the item, the property is registered to the new one. So, if the police recover an item of property which, under UV light, is shown to be SW marked, then it can be traced by to the owner by analysing the forensic code involved.
‘But doesn’t this also rely on property being found by the police?’ Not entirely. Criminals are aware and afraid of SW, which has demonstrably reduced the theft of various items when used in conjunction with a high profile campaign. This involves publicising the use of SW – so that would-be thieves know that property either is or may be marked with SW – so don’t risk stealing it in the first place. The owner can put a SW sticker on property too – confirming that it is marked. Trust me, criminals know all about this stuff, and are fully aware that there is no way around it. If captured in possession of SW marked property, they know its game over. The other thing SW as a company is renowned for is working in cooperation with police forces to increase intelligence (that word again, see my other Enforcement Blogs) and mount ‘sting’ operations, making arrests and publicising prosecutions arising. When a campaign is running, SW and the police also visit second-hand outlets, including car boot sales, and monitor online auctions, searching out SW marked stolen property. So, again in sum, SW is very much more than simply a clever forensic marking solution. Fantastic though hat is, there is so much more to engaging with SW.
Having looked at all the modern property options and sought advice from various police forces, there was no doubt whatsoever in my mind that anglers needed SW to mark fishing tackle. So it was that a few months ago my friend and colleague, Will Smith, the Angling Trust’s Membership Manager, and I visited SW’s Head Office and met with Phil Cleary and Pauline Knott. Immediately we could all see that a partnership between the Trust and SW was exactly the way forward.
On 25 June 2014, the Angling Trust and SW launched our partnership and anti-tackle theft campaign to our members when professional angler and Angling Trust Ambassador Jan Porter – the victim of a high-value tackle theft – and I demonstrated the product live on BBC Crimewatch Roadshow at Seaham Marina. Now, another clever bit: this is a bespoke SW product specifically with marking fishing tackle in mind, which is often exposed to the elements for long periods. This SW, therefore, is virtually impossible to remove and does not fade (unlike DNA-based solutions, which fade in sunlight).
So, anglers can now fight back – with SW.
The other thing we need to do as a community is report incidents and information on tackle theft and thieves to the police. Use the 101 telephone number, or even anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 11. This information is crucial – because this is what will drive operations against these people and help us drive down tackle theft even further.
Anyway, nobody can say we aren’t doing our best to make a positive impact on this problem – do yours: join the Angling Trust and take advantage of this unique opportunity to obtain SW at a very generously discounted rate – you won’t get it cheaper anywhere else, and forget cheaper alternatives – there are none, because nothing compares to the crime-fighting effectiveness of SW!
See this link to our members’ offer: AT Member Benefits
Click here to visit Smarwater’s Website
Angling Trust members’ bespoke tackle insurance offer: INSURANCE OFFER
Dilip Sarkar MBE
Fisheries Enforcement Manager