Police in Sussex are urging horsebox and trailer owners to get their vehicles marked with Smartwater — a special liquid solution with a unique identity — in an attempt to combat thefts from rural areas.

The force is using Smartwater, or Tracer as it is also know, with a chemical composition unique to Operation Coppice — Sussex Police’s response to the theft of rural equipment and vehicles.

“Smartwater is ideal for marking vehicles and larger items of equipment including horseboxes and horse trailers,” explains David Ward of Sussex Police.

“The benefits of Smartwater are two-fold. Vehicles marked with Smartwater carry stickers warning that the vehicle has been marked, in an attempt to deter thieves. However, if an item is stolen and later recovered, the unique composition of the smartwater we are using means the item can be more easily tracked back to its original owner.”

The crime prevention team at North Downs Division is offering to mark property free of charge with all items marked as part of Operation Coppice logged on a police database.

Crime prevention officer Alan Haffenden, says: “This clear liquid is uniquely identifiable — a bit like a DNA code. The solution is so advanced that even the slightest trace can be analysed for evidence by forensic experts.

“It’s totally free to have your property marked and we will come to you. All you have to do is phone your crime prevention officer or co-ordinator to book a time.”

Horsham and Mid Sussex districts will become the first in Sussex to be offered the Smartwater property-marking service in advance of a force-wide roll-out.

Other forces currently using the Smartwater technology include Greater Manchester Police, Bath Police and Bristol Police.

For more information about Smartwater visit: www.smartwater.com

Individuals who have had property stolen can visit: www.virtualbumblebee.co.uk to check if their item has been recovered.

  • In a separate initiative designed to combate horsebox theft, Prestige Horseboxes is microchiping all its new custom-built lorries.

    David Jackson of Prestige Horseboxes says: “We have joined forces with Kiwi-chip-it to offer our customers peace of mind following an upsurge in horsebox thefts.”

    The horseboxes now include a number of hidden microchips, while a disc placed on the outside warns off would-be thieves. In the unfortunate event that the warning is ignored, the vehicle can be traced back to its owner via a database.

    For more information contact Prestige Horseboxes Ltd (tel: 01772 811737) or Kiwi-chip-it (tel: 01507 451386).