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Domestic Burglary Reduction in Todmorden, England

Police in Todmorden have the ‘solution’ for beating burglars

Since the introduction of ‘Smartwater’ into the town there has been an 84% drop in domestic burglaries.

“This is brilliant news, the facts speak for themselves and reflect the hard work by officers in reducing crime in an area which affects people where they feel vulnerable - in their home", said DCI Martin Jordan, Crime Manager for Calderdale Division. "So far we haven't seen an increase in other types of crime locally, which does suggest that thieves are thinking twice before coming to Todmorden."

During the four month period, from the start of the Smartwater project in October 2004 to the end of January 2005, there were a total of 24 domestic burglaries recorded in Todmorden, compared to 152 for the same period the previous year.

Smartwater kits, which allow belongings to be security marked with a unique personalised chemical, are being distributed free of charge to all 4,000 homes in Todmorden.

Residents have been receiving personal visits from uniformed police officers and police community support officers (PCSOs) who have marked up valuables for them and offered crime prevention advice.

DCI Jordan obtained the funding for the project. “The opportunity to undertake work of this type in Todmorden will, I am sure, in the long term achieve results. We have already seen massive reductions in domestic burglaries in Todmorden and that is not only down to Smartwater but to the hard work and commitment of the officers and police staff who are employed on a daily basis visiting people’s homes and installing this crime prevention solution.”

“We are not simply undertaking a quick hit by installing Smartwater, we are using the opportunity to spend quality time with householders. The officers not only provide the solution free of charge but also offer crime prevention advice and often supply simple crime prevention kits whilst undertaking home surveys.

“The public have been magnificent in their support of our work and clearly the crime prevention message is literally getting home to people. It also gives householders the opportunity to tell us what they really want from their local police. This will clearly allow us to tailor our policing style to meet community needs.”

A dedicated team of officers who all live and work locally, the Burglary Reduction Unit in Todmorden (BRUT), is responsible for the day to day running of the project, managed by Sgt Joanne Flexney.

"We accept this is not purely about Smartwater but is about working with our partners to make a real difference to people’s lives in Todmorden,” she said. “The local community beat officers and PCSOs must take a lot of the credit as well as my own team. They have worked hard over the last four months and the results are very pleasing so far. We still have a long way to go but, hopefully, the public can see what we are trying to achieve and will support us."

Calder Valley MP Chris McCafferty made a visit to the area this week to see at first hand the impact that the Smartwater project has had on residents lives. She was given the opportunity to see officers in action installing the solution in homes.

"I am delighted that there has been such a large reduction in domestic burglaries since the introduction of Smartwater," she said. "I saw for myself on Monday the Smartwater system, after joining community police officers as they visited local homes and it is an excellent preventative tool. Together with the community beat officer and the three PCSOs allocated to Todmorden, we are beating burglary in the area."

Smartwater has already been shown to have had a great impact on burglaries where it has been employed elsewhere in the country. The chemical solution which is used to mark property is unique to the household for which it has been mixed and carries its own DNA code. When goods which have been marked with the fluid are recovered after a burglary the fluid can be examined under a microscope where the code can be read and the true property owner quickly identified.

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