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DeterTech helps protects character of historic Yorkshire streets

Leeds City Council has begun forensically marking its prized Yorkstone paving slabs with SBD member company DeterTech’s SmartWater™ technology, following a concerning rise in targeted thefts.

The initiative will help to deter criminals and assist West Yorkshire Police in bringing thieves to justice.

Reclaimed Yorkstone is widely valued for its durability, quality and attractive naturally weathered look. It can only be mined from Yorkshire quarries and commonly retails for hundreds of pounds per square metre. It has a long history of being used on the streets of Leeds contributing to older parts of the city’s distinctive character.  

Leeds City Council Executive Member for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure Councillor Helen Hayden said: “The theft of Yorkstone paving slabs costs taxpayers in Leeds tens of thousands of pounds per year, at a time when council budgets are in crisis, as well as creating health and safety risks and ruining the look and feel of some our most historic streets and walkways. We are determined to crack down on this which is why we are pleased to have partnered with DeterTech to use SmartWater technology. We hope this sets out a clear message that such thefts will not be tolerated.”

SmartWater is an easy-to-apply unique traceable liquid that is invisible to the naked eye but glows yellow-green under ultraviolet light. It is guaranteed to last for a minimum of five years in all weathers and ensures police can hold thieves to account by tracing stolen paving slabs back to the street from which they were stolen.

It has a 100% conviction rate in contested court cases, with DeterTech’s forensic scientists only requiring a trace of SmartWater the size of a pinhead to irrefutably trace stolen property back to the original owner. 

The deployment of SmartWater technology currently covers 20 streets across three wards that are considered at high risk of paving stone theft. The Council has partnered with the city’s Highways & Transportation team to protect assets and ensure money that would otherwise have to be spent on paving repairs can be redirected towards the Council’s strategic priorities.

Gary Higgins, Director of Commercial Operations, DeterTech said “SmartWater is widely feared by the criminal fraternity meaning we should see an instant reduction in the targeting of Yorkstone paving. Anybody stupid enough to ignore this warning should know we are putting police in the best possible position to convict them.”

Hazel Goss, Development Officer, Secured by Design concluded, “It’s staggering that the theft of Yorkstone paving slabs costs taxpayers such a huge sum each year, how sad that some are even prepared to steal the very pavement from under our feet. I’d like to commend Leeds City Council and DeterTech for taking such a proactive approach to crime prevention, and wish them every success in stopping these thefts.”

Find out more about DeterTech and their SBD accredited products here.