Turning the tide on catalytic converter theft

The crime deterrent power of SmartWater forensic marking is to be made openly available to the commercial vehicle sector for the first time, it has been revealed.

A new High Temperature Marker developed by global risk management specialists, SmartWater Technology Ltd, will tackle head-on the growing problem of catalytic converter theft that blights fleets and private motorists alike. The British company’s latest innovation was officially unveiled at the Commercial Vehicle Show, held at Birmingham’s NEC (April 9-11).

Marking under UV light

The SmartWater High Temperature Marker provides durable, long-term forensic traceability to catalytic converters and other vehicle exhaust components. Unlike other products which need regular re-application, it is guaranteed to last a minimum of five years or 100,000 miles if applied according to the simple instructions and comes with no recurring fees beyond an affordable one-off kit price.

While SmartWater has long been deployed in a variety of scenarios by organisations including BT Openreach, Network Rail, National Grid and G4S, this is the first time the forensic marking technology has been openly available to the commercial vehicle sector.

Each marking kit contains a unique code which is registered to an individual vehicle, providing undeniable traceability and a powerful deterrent to thieves who, as independent academic research has shown, well understand the dangers of stealing SmartWater marked property.

The precious metals in a typical catalytic converter, along with ease of access underneath a car, van or truck, has made them a popular target for thieves. Despite being worth only £100-£200 in resale value, replacement costs run into the thousands for motorists or fleet managers, in addition to the disruption caused to businesses and personal lives.

SmartWater chief executive, Phil Cleary, said: “SmartWater’s High Temperature Marker has been thoroughly tested and proven to withstand the extremely high operating temperatures of catalytic converters and other exhaust system components. The identification of catalytic converters has historically represented a problem for the police, as without traceability it is very difficult for them to prosecute a suspected thief. SmartWater’s High Temperature Marker provides durable, long term traceability that will assist in prosecutions thereby creating a powerful criminal deterrent.

“We have used expertise gained in adapting SmartWater for a range of industrial environments and arrived at this point, where we can say that the SmartWater High Temperature Marker could put the brakes on runaway cat theft figures!”


All about SmartWater


  • SmartWater Technology Ltd combines cutting edge science, risk management and intelligence gathering to help suppress crime across the globe.
  • SmartWater works with its clients as a full partner in their risk management strategies, carrying out year-round strategies to maximise its impact as a deterrent.
  • Its specialist staff include many ex-police and special forces operatives, who are working to protect everything from individual homes to the UK’s most critical infrastructure.
  • SmartWater is at the heart of protecting many of the most essential services in the UK and beyond. It’s patented forensic coding technology is deployed tactically on railway networks, water processing installations and critical telecoms cabling. Millions of pounds of cash-in-transit is guarded by SmartWater, whilst entire fleets of vehicles rely on it to protect their contents and integral parts, such as catalytic converters.
  • Almost any item can be marked with SmartWater solution and each batch contains a unique forensic code, which is registered to the owner of the property. If items are stolen and recovered, the police can use that code to trace the owner and bring to account those responsible for the theft.
  • SmartWater can be deployed using a variety of means, including strategic automatically triggered sprays and forensic trap devices.
  • Police forces around the UK are equipped to routinely check for the presence of SmartWater on both suspects and property, using detection equipment provided to them at no cost by SmartWater itself.
  • SmartWater’s ability to withstand extreme weather conditions over the course of many years has earned it the highest level of independent approval following rigorous testing. SmartWater forensic codes were the first to be awarded ‘Grade A External’ classification under the PAS 820:2012 specification.
  • To date SmartWater has been used to aid more than 1,000 criminal convictions and maintains a 100 per cent conviction rate in court.
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