Frequently Asked Questions
You will undoubtedly have further questions about the MetTrace, SmartWater and how to mark your property.
View this section to find additional information, including the answers to questions we have been asked by others.
The MetTrace Initiative
What is MetTrace?
A: MetTrace is a Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) operation to help residents make their homes more secure by providing crime prevention advice and SmartWater® packs to one in seven London homes.
Are there any hidden costs?
A: No, the MetTrace operation is being paid for by the MPS and there are no hidden costs for receiving or using a SmartWater pack. You can of course purchase additional SmartWater products at your own expense .
How does SmartWater deter burglars?
A: SmartWater has a long track record of helping the police to secure convictions against criminals, some of them for very serious crimes. Criminals are therefore well aware of it and the risks it poses to them. They also know that officers have been trained to detect SmartWater and will be looking for it routinely, both out on the street and in the police station. This not only puts real pressure on burglars but also their ‘handlers', those people who buy the property knowing or believing it to be stolen, as they will be at risk too. Put simply, property marked with SmartWater becomes too ‘hot' for them to handle.
Why do I need to put the stickers in my doors/windows?
A: It has been academically proven that criminals avoid targeting premises that display the SmartWater deterrent door/window stickers as they understand that SmartWater links property to homeowners and them to crime scenes. By displaying the deterrent stickers in your windows and on doors you are sending out a powerful warning to any would-be thieves that your home is protected by SmartWater.
How do I get a SmartWater kit if I'm not part of the MetTrace rollout?
A: MetTrace runs from April to March each year until 2018. We have conducted detailed analysis considering three years of burglary crime data. This has given us the addresses we will be visiting in year one and year two of our activity. Every 12 months we will repeat our analysis, to inform our activity for the following year. This means that we are yet to decide on our year three addresses and there is a chance that we might visit you then.
If you would prefer not to wait, you can get a SmartWater forensic marking kit by:
- Joining a local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme (they are supplied kits at around 1/3 of the regular price) – see our useful links
- Getting the product direct from SmartWater – see related link
- Contacting your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team – there are a number of local authorities exploring the prospect of supplying extra kits. Enter your postcode in 'Find your local police' to obtain their details.
- There are a number of other property-marking options available. View our property-marking advice – see related links – or contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods Team, who might be able to offer an alternative solution.
Can I buy SmartWater deterrent window/door stickers even though I don't have a SmartWater kit?
A: The use of stickers and signage is tightly controlled and they can only be displayed within properties where SmartWater is actually in use. There are two key reasons for this:
- The contracted partnership between SmartWater and the MPS only covers 440,000 homes.
- If homes without SmartWater start displaying stickers, criminals will soon catch on to this and may start to ignore them. To create a meaningful deterrent amongst criminals it is imperative that the stickers represent a genuine risk of encountering SmartWater (i.e. valuables inside homes displaying stickers have definitely been marked and if stolen can be traced back to the rightful owner).
How does the SmartWater technology work?
A: SmartWater is a tool to definitively link your valuable items to you. SmartWater is a liquid which contains a unique forensic code. It is almost invisible to the naked eye but under UV light glows a green/yellow colour. Once the SmartWater is registered to your address and your valuable items are marked with it, police can prove that the item belongs to you by forensic analysis of the SmartWater. This means that police have a better chance of returning property to rightful owners and catching the criminals that benefit from crimes like theft, burglary, robbery and handling stolen goods.
What property can I mark?
A: You can mark all types of valuable items with SmartWater, including jewellery, mobile telephones, electrical items, bicycles and power tools. If you are unsure whether you can mark a particular item, please contact the SmartWater Customer Services Team by emailing email@example.com or by calling 0800 521 669.
Is SmartWater safe to use?
A: SmartWater is classified as non-hazardous. It is safe to use as long as the application guidelines included with the pack are correctly followed.
What happens if SmartWater gets on my skin?
A: If SmartWater comes into contact with your skin, immediately wash the area with soap and water.
What happens if I swallow it?
A: If you swallow SmartWater, wash out your mouth with water and consult your doctor if any symptoms develop.
Is SmartWater easy to apply?
A: SmartWater is very easy to apply and requires no specialist training or equipment. Every pack comes with application guidelines to help you to understand how to apply it.
If I run out of SmartWater solution, can I get another bottle?
A: The MetTrace operation provides one bottle of SmartWater to each household involved in the project free of charge. This bottle of SmartWater can mark around 50 valuable items. If you require more SmartWater solution this can be purchased by you at your own expense direct from SmartWater. Please visit www.smartwater.com/shop or call 0800 521 669.
Can I apply SmartWater to items used and stored outdoors?
A: Yes, you can. SmartWater is made from metal-based materials and does not contain any DNA or other organic components. This means that it is robust, extremely hard-wearing and will not require regular reapplication. SmartWater is accredited to PAS 820:2012 Grade A External standard, which means that it is guaranteed to last for a minimum of five years even when used outdoors.
Once I have marked an item, how long will the SmartWater remain on it?
A: To fully dry and "cure", the SmartWater needs to be left for 24 hours. After this time it is almost impossible to forcibly remove. The product is accredited to PAS 820:2012 Grade A External standard, which means that it is guaranteed to last for a minimum of 5 years even when used outdoors.
Personal details and changes in circumstances
Why do I need to provide my personal details?
A: Each SmartWater pack contains a uniquely identifiable forensic code, but in order to identify stolen property, this code must be registered against the user's personal details. Only by having these details registered will it be possible for marked property to be identified and returned. Without them the police may be unable to prosecute suspects arrested in possession of the stolen property.
Where are my details stored?
A: All details entered as part of the registration process, including your name, address and the unique forensic code are stored by SmartWater on a secure offline database. The database is accredited and maintained to ISO27001 which is the international gold standard for information security. You will not get spam or promotional literature from other companies as a result of this.
You may receive information from us about local crime and policing in your area, as well as for a request for your feedback on the MetTrace operation.
How can I update my personal details?
A: For security purposes, SmartWater only accept changes to personal details in writing. Please email SmartWater's Customer Services Team on firstname.lastname@example.org detailing the changes you would like to make, or write to them at SmartWater Technology Limited, PO Box 136, Telford, TF3 3WY. It is useful but not essential to include your unique forensic code with your request. You will find this on the side of the bottle and on the registration form tear-off slip.
Will I be charged if I need to update my details?
A: There will be no charge to change or update your registered details.
What do I need to do if I move house?
A: If you move house you can continue to use the SmartWater pack already in your possession. You simply need to update your personal details by contacting SmartWater's Customer Services Team by email at email@example.com or by calling 0800 521 669.
If I move will I be able to get more deterrent stickers for my new address?
A: If you have moved house you can obtain additional door/window stickers free of charge directly from SmartWater. Stickers will be sent upon receipt of the appropriate utility bill to show your new address. You will also need to update your personal details. Contact SmartWater's Customer Services Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0800 521 669.
How do I opt out of further communications?
A: Every communication we send will tell you how to opt out of further communications.
Can I register my bottle of SmartWater to more than one address?
A: No. Being able to place a criminal at a specific crime scene and identify the true owner of marked property beyond all reasonable doubt is important so that police can establish a definitive evidential chain. For this reason it is essential that a bottle of SmartWater is registered to just one address.
If I buy a new SmartWater pack with a different unique forensic code, will I have to register again?
A: If you purchase a new SmartWater pack directly from SmartWater it will be pre-registered to your home address at the point of purchase. Therefore you will not need to complete another registration form.
I already have a MetTrace SmartWater pack. Can I buy extra window/door stickers?
A: The distribution of additional stickers is tightly controlled. To determine your eligibility please contact SmartWater Customer Services by emailing email@example.com or by calling 0800 521 669.
I already have a MetTrace SmartWater pack but I have replaced my windows and/or doors. Can I have more door/window stickers?
A: If you have replaced your windows, you can obtain additional door/window stickers free of charge directly from SmartWater. Stickers will be sent upon receipt of the appropriate invoice to show that you have replaced your window(s). Please contact SmartWater Customer Services by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0800 521 669.
The police and my property
What should I do if I do get burgled?
A: You must report it to the police in the usual way and be sure to tell them that your valuables are marked with SmartWater. If possible, please advise the Investigating Officer of your unique forensic code. Finally, please contact SmartWater Customer Services by emailing email@example.com or by calling on 0800 521 669. SmartWater will take a note of your crime reference number and where possible liaise with local law enforcement agencies.
How do the police trace my property?
A: Police routinely scan lost or stolen property recovered or handed into them for traces of SmartWater. Any item found to be marked with SmartWater will be submitted for forensic analysis which will help police to identify the owner of the property, arrest offenders and return the property to their rightful owners. SmartWater's scientists only need a speck as small as the full stop at the end of this sentence to identify the owner's details.
What happens if I sell an item that I have marked with SmartWater?
A: This is not a problem. Simply make a note of the item you have sold and the person you have sold it to. You should also provide a receipt for the buyer, so they have proof that they have bought the item. The unique forensic code within your SmartWater solution will help police track down the owner should the goods be stolen and later recovered. A Transfer of Ownership Form can be emailed free of charge by contacting SmartWater's Customer Services Team by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling on 0800 521 669.
What would happen if police officers carry out a search warrant at my house, would you seize the items I have marked believing them to be stolen?
A: Possibly. We would seek confirmation from you that the items were yours and marked by you. We may then take samples of the SmartWater mark which we could analyse to show that the property rightfully belonged to you.
Do I need to let the police or SmartWater know which items of my property I have marked?
A: No. Neither the police nor SmartWater need to know which items of property you have marked although we do recommend that you keep a list for your own records.
How can my property be traced back to me?
A: The forensic code within every SmartWater bottle is unique – the same code is never repeated or manufactured twice. The code within your bottle of SmartWater, together with your name and address details, are stored on the SmartWater offline secure database, which is maintained to the highest international standards of ISO27001. If any of your valuables are stolen and subsequently recovered by the police, forensic scientists will analyse traces of SmartWater on the item to link them back to you.