In an attempt to lessen the £1.2m the company loses each year from thieves nicking lumps of its pipework, cabling, roofing and gratings, Thames Water is starting to tag its hardware, so those who nick it can be caught.
Using a thing it calls "SmartWater" which it describes as a "coded-water which invisibly tags metal," the company hopes to contaminate those who touch its stuff with the fluid, which can be detected by shining ultraviolet light on it.
Bob Collington, the company's asset management boss, said: "Metal theft at our sites costs our customers millions of pounds to put right. We are dealing with this by applying a forensic signature to all our equipment, so anything taken from one of our sites can be traced back."
The company's also resorting to randomly checking scrap yards for nicked stuff and claims junk dealers are starting to use UV readers to check suspiciously bent items before accepting them. Thames Water says the areas in and around Aylesbury, Marlow, East Hyde and Bishop Stortford are the worst hit by casual metal thievery. [Thames Water]
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