By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune Correspondent
Updated: June 4, 2014 2:05AM
VALPARAISO — A high-tech crime-fighting tool is being rolled out in Porter County.
Porter County Sheriff David Lain unveiled SmartWater CSI on Tuesday, a liquid substance containing 30 rare minerals that can be used to mark belongings and is visible under ultraviolet light.
The sheriff’s department used funds from the jail commissary fund to purchase 150 vials of SmartWater at a cost of $35 each. The vials will be distributed to senior citizens through Porter County Triad, a mix of law enforcement, senior healthcare providers and social service agencies that works to connect with senior citizens.
“This is wizardry in my book. I think the impact we’re going to see through Triad is going to grow,” Lain said.
The goal of SmartWater is to help prevent thefts and to make it easier to recover stolen goods. Porter County is the first place outside of Florida, where SmartWater’s U.S. distribution headquarters are located, to sign up for the program, said Rob Shuster, a vice president for AFIMAC, which distributes the product.
Shuster demonstrated the glow under UV light of a coin covered in SmartWater as well as a piece of copper tubing.
“We want to educate not only the public, but in a lot of (police) departments we’re working with, the criminal element,” Shuster said, adding one neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale received SmartWater kits and burglaries dropped by 14 percent.
Many police departments already have UV lights in their inventories, so they can scan for the markings without special equipment, Lain said, adding he is working with area detectives to make them aware of the new technology.
Despite all its technological bang, Shuster said SmartWater is not foolproof, nor is it a guarantee against theft, but it is an effective tool.
“You can never get risk down to zero,” Lain said. “All you’re trying to do is get your risk down.”