Co-op Group trials Smartwater cannons to crack down on theft

The device sprays a dense fog to obscure criminals’ vision and invisibly mark them to aid detection

The Co-op Group has introduced Smartwater fog cannons in a bid to combat rising retail crime.

The security system deploys a dense fog to obscure vision, while linking criminals and stolen goods back to the scene of a crime.

The Group is working with SmartWater and security fog specialists PROTECT to roll-out the new forensic deterrent in its food stores. The fog cannons can also be sited in response to intelligence-led information.

The move forms part of the retailer’s investment in innovative security technology and follows the launch of its Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign.

The rollout comes as the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) showing the direct costs of crime rising to over £700m.

The fog cannons are particularly effective in the kiosk area – a target for criminal behaviour due to the sale of products such as cigarettes and alcohol.

Once triggered by sensors, the fog obscures an intruder’s vision, and covers the criminal in a spray containing SmartWater’s unique forensic signature, increasing the risk to criminals of stolen goods being tracked by police, and helping to secure convictions.

Invisible to the naked eye, an amount of SmartWater spray equivalent in size to a speck of dust can help Police with identification. It is guaranteed to last at least five years.

Florian Mattinson, managing director of SmartWater Technology Limited, said: “With hundreds of criminal convictions to date and a 100% conviction rate in court, criminals are aware of SmartWater’s ability to place them at the scene of a crime.

“This crime-beating innovation is the result of a joint venture between the market leaders in forensic and fogging technology. Following the successful roll-out of SmartWater to Co-op’s ATM estate, this fog represents a further significant step in retail security in communities, one which combines deterrence, vision-obscuring fog and traceability.

“Simply put, this technology represents an even greater deterrent to criminals.”

Andrew Needham, head of retail loss and costs at the Group, said: “Safety and security is our number one priority.

“We know that violence and crime is about much more than statistics, it is about its impact on people’s lives and the communities in which they live and work. As a community-based organisation we see the impact of social issues in our stores, and we’re committed to playing our part and working together to do all we can to protect colleagues and make our communities safer.”