Huddersfield Business Improvement District is helping retailers in the town tackle shoplifting with a unique forensic spray.

SmartWater applied to high-value items is invisible to the naked eye but leaves an indelible mark which glows under ultra-violet light. It has a unique forensic code that is said to be more accurate than DNA.

The spray, being rolled out across Huddersfield town centre, is aimed at deterring shoplifters. The spray means stolen goods – from electronics to perfumes and jewellery – can be linked to offenders and traced back to the shop they were taken from, providing strong evidence for the police.

Huddersfield BID is working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Combined Authority to roll out the innovative, anti-theft solution to levy-paying businesses within the Huddersfield BID zone.

Huddersfield BID Manager Sam Sharp said: “SmartWater is an effective forensic marking system that has been found to be more identifiable and accurate than DNA. SmartWater has a 100% conviction rate in contested court cases and is an excellent deterrent against shoplifters and thieves.

“One of BID’s key objectives is to create a safer Huddersfield and the SmartWater project sends a clear message to would-be shoplifters that we are fighting back.

“We understand the financial loss and damage that retail theft causes to hardworking businesses, which is why the SmartWater scheme, along with other Huddersfield BID initiatives, is such an important project.

“Potential shoplifters entering our town should know that we are a SmartWater town, we have Street Rangers and we have a Shoplink Radio scheme. We are a town centre business community that works together, shares knowledge and is determined to make a positive impact.”

Sgt Toni Ramsden, of the Huddersfield Town Centre Policing Team, said: “We have been working very closely with Huddersfield BID and have been delighted to collaborate with them on the launch of SmartWater in Huddersfield.

“DNA marking products such as SmartWater have been highly successful when deployed in other towns and cities in West Yorkshire, providing a real asset in helping us detect shoplifting and prosecute offenders.

“We are supporting the roll out in Huddersfield with increased policing patrols in the town centre, including the deployment of plain-clothed officers to patrol stores and catch shoplifters in the act.

“Those tempted to steal from retailers should be warned that undercover police are patrolling to watch for them and, if they do steal SmartWater marked products, they can be linked directly to the offence.

“We are collaborating very closely with stores through Huddersfield BID and our other partnership networks taking action against thieves and are determined to help them fight back against store theft.”

Ms Sharp said SmartWater is free to levy-paying shops and businesses within the Huddersfield BID zone and added: “Deploying SmartWater in Huddersfield and displaying prominent signage around the town centre and inside participating stores will support everybody in the fight against retail crime.

“Our aim is to make Huddersfield a safe and attractive place to visit, work and live and SmartWater is just one of the ways we are doing that alongside our Street Rangers who provide daily patrols and a presence on the streets.”

The scheme is being rolled out throughout November and businesses that have already signed up include:

  • Cash Generator
  • Deichmann
  • Dunelm
  • Foot Asylum
  • Handmade in Huddersfield
  • HMV
  • Home Bargains
  • Moda Imperiale 
  • Poundland
  • Savers
  • The Entertainer
  • The Range
  • The Works
  • WHSmith

A spokesman for toy retailer The Entertainer said: “Retail theft in Huddersfield has definitely risen over the last few years and we feel it is likely to get worse with the cost-of-living crisis taking hold on people more and more.

“It’s important for us to be involved in the SmartWater scheme so that we can all work together to eradicate shoplifting as much as possible. As businesses we need to work together as much as we can to help Huddersfield get back to its former glory.

“The scheme should hopefully act as a deterrent and will help us retrieve stock, therefore limiting our yearly loss.”

The collaboration between Huddersfield BID and West Yorkshire Police, also sees a quarterly Business Crime Reduction Group which is specifically aimed at updating businesses within the BID zone on actions and services provided by Huddersfield BID and the local policing team.

At the meeting, it is discussed how stakeholders can work together in tackling town centre issues with focus on retail crime, which most towns experience.

What makes Huddersfield different is that Huddersfield BID and its partners want to help and empower businesses to improve the trading environment for everyone.

The next meeting will be held on Monday January 8, 6pm to 7pm, at the Head of Steam in Huddersfield. To register your place, please follow the link