Business World

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Criminals who break into cash machines to be sprayed with invisible gel that can be detected for five years

Cash machine Photo: Getty
Cash machine Photo: Getty

Shafi Musaddique

Criminals who attempt to break into certain cash machines will be sprayed with an invisible gel said to be detectable on the skin and clothes for as long as five years.

Forensic technology company SmartWater teamed up with the Co-op Group in making the gel traceable enough to link criminals back to the scene of the crime. Only a tiny amount of gel – the size of a speck of dust – is enough for criminal forensic investigators to find and identify a person.

Approximately 2,500 Co-op cash machines will have the technology installed across the UK, following a 90 per cent reduction in crime at ATMs during a pilot scheme rolled out over 30 locations last year.

According to the Co-op, ATM crime is most frequent in the North West of England. London is reportedly ranked second in ATM crimes across the UK. The capital is also home to high rates of “black box” crimes, whereby criminals gain access to ATMs by physically connecting them to devices, such as a laptop, to usher commands which dispenses cash.

The Metropolitan Police said it had taken up the initiative, alongside SmartWater, to visit one in seven homes across London to give away free crime-detecting kits aimed at “reducing household burglary”.

“All custody areas have suitable detectors fitted, with all prisoners routinely scanned and hundreds of patrol staff have been both equipped and trained to detect it”, said Iain Raphael, Detective Chief Superintendent and Enfield Borough Commander. “We welcome any crime prevention initiative such as this that can benefit from our ongoing work with SmartWater and criminals contemplating attacks on Co-op ATMs should take note”.

Chris Whitfield, Co-op’s director of retail and logistics, said ATM crime disproportionately impacts rural police forces where “cash dispensers are more of a lifeline for residents and the local economy”. He added: “At the forefront of combating ATM crime this proven technology utilises the latest ATM security capabilities and innovations to cut crime, providing a safer and secure way to deliver a key and convenient service in local communities.”

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