Sunday, July 25, 2010

BT Employs "SmartWater" Invisible Paint to Deter Cable Theft

BT's Openreach division has begun to deploy an invisible, "SmartWater" forensic ink in its cabling across the UK as a deterrence to metal thieves. Driven by the recent surge in scrap copper prices, metal theft is a growing problem.

BT's Metal Theft Taskforce is using the SmartWater as a means to tag anyone tampering with its lines. SmartWater is a forensic marking liquid that is unique to a particular location. It will be used to mark the outer shell and inner core of Openreach cable, along with tools and other equipment. This will allow police to irrefutably identify where any stolen items have come from. Any thieves who target Openreach property face being sprayed with the liquid.

BT and the British Transport Police the system, which is also interconnected with GPS, will be used in hot-spot areas to capture criminals red-handed.

Detective Inspector Robin Conway from British Transport Police said: "Cable and metal theft is high on BTP's agenda due to the disruption and economic effect it has on businesses and communities. Anyone arrested for metal theft will be examined for traces of SmartWater. A search will be made of the person's house and any property, including vehicles with traces of SmartWater on them, is likely to be seized by police. Scrap metal dealers will also be visited regularly to ensure they are assisting British Transport Police in identifying criminals attempting to sell stolen metal."

Openreach is already using SmartWater in North London, where it is credited with reducing the number of network attacks, as would-be thieves are discouraged from entering areas where they may be sprayed with the solution, or taking equipment which has been coated.

In addition to rolling out SmartWater, Openreach is stepping up mobile patrolling of network sites, introducing new locks for manholes, and working closely with local police forces on dedicated "sting" operations to target metal thieves. Last year, BT worked with Police to achieve over 200 arrests.

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