Law enforcement officers in Palm Beach County are using a water spray called SmartWater CSI to catch burglars and deter other would-be criminals.
According to the Sun Sentinel, SmartWater CSI is a “high-tech liquid” that is encoded with a forensic fingerprint on put on pieces of property. The liquid can later be seen through an ultraviolet (UV) black light and identified at the SmartWater lab. Despite its tangible benefits, the substance is invisible.
The Palm Beach County Sherrif’s Office has disclosed that it expects the liquid technology to deter burglars and catch those who continue to steal. Still, our South Florida criminal defense lawyers know although this technology can potentially serve a good purpose, its harmful effects should not be ignored.
Law enforcement authorities also noted that the new spray could be used in covert operations, as it was in Riviera Beach this past August. A 39-year-old man tried to steal a few items from a vehicle parked in a convenience store parking lot, but when he opened the door of the car, he was doused in SmartwWter; he, of course, was unaware that the car had been armed with SmartWater technology.
Seconds later, police officers nearby caught the man and, under a black light, the SmartWater on the burglar was illuminated.
Palm Beach County Sherrif Ric Bradshaw, as was reported in the Sun Sentinel article noted above, said that his agency has seen SmartWater help decrease theft since it was launched last year. The liquid is strategically effective, according to law enforcement groups, and according to the manufacturers of SmartWater, it is just as physically effective; the company behind SmartWater says that the liquid is “virtually impossible to remove,” noting that environmental factors such as sunlight and temperature won’t affect the product.
Our experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert realize that with near-permanence comes a risk. The SmartWater liquid can last on people for up to several weeks — and for up to five years on pieces of property. With this in mind, we must ask, at what point does anti-theft activity begin to infringe on our right to live free from sprayable technology? Preventing criminal activity is noble, but it should not necessarily take a higher place on a list of societal priorities than protection of person and property.