Plain-clothed police officers will be on the hunt for shoplifters this November as part of partnership work to protect retailers in Huddersfield.

Officers from Huddersfield Town Centre Team have started ‘covert’ patrols in popular stores in the run up to Christmas in order to catch store thieves in the act, and reassure retailers.

The action has been taken to support the roll out of SmartWater forensic spray to a number of participating businesses by the Huddersfield Business Improvement District (BID).

Huddersfield BID is working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Combined Authority to deploy SmartWater, anti-theft solution to levy-paying businesses within the Huddersfield BID zone in the town centre.

The ‘invisible’ liquid, which shows up under ultra-violet light, is a forensic marking technology which can be used to ‘tag’ products on shop floors. Any marked items which are stolen can be traced back to the place they were stolen from.

Huddersfield BID street ranger Gavin Wardle (right) demonstrates SmartWater to Ant Gotts of Handmade in Huddersfield

Sgt Toni Ramsden, of the Huddersfield Town Centre Team, said: “We have been working very closely with Huddersfield BID and have been delighted to collaborate with them on their 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 will be ‘tagged’ and linked directly to the offence. 

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

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.”