From SmartWater to Smart Farms

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

There’s a new tool that could lead to a significant decrease in crime rates, starting in the Tulare County. The tool is called SmartWater, and Detective John Nicholson of the Tulare County Ag Crimes Unit said that the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department has begun using it to track stolen property.

Detective John Nicholson

Nicholson said that SmartWater comes from a company based out of England that has been around for about 20 years and decided to open up a branch in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Word came about the tool’s dramatic effect on crime rates, with double-digit reductions in the neighborhoods where it was used.

“The sheriff was excited about it and thought it could be something that would protect the local farmers and ranchers of Tulare County,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson said growers could get their own vial so that they can mark equipment with a mark that is made visible by a particular light only the sheriff’s department has access to, so the criminals do not know it is there.

Nicholson explained it as working similar to identifying people by DNA, as a sample is taken back to the lab so it can come back registered to the property owner.

“It’s a mineral-based tool that can not only stand up to the elements, but even if bleach is poured onto it, the SmartWater will remain there as evidence against criminals in court,” Nicholson said.

“If someone is caught with a tool, jewelry, firearm or anything—and even if the serial number is ground off—if the item was marked with SmartWater, it comes back registered to a victim who has had the item stolen. Then we can identify that item in court,” he said.

This should ultimately lead to an arrest or conviction due to possession of stolen property.

The SmartWater program is available for free at the Tulare County Sheriff’s department.