Merced Co. introduces SmartWater CSI technology in hopes of preventing Ag crimes

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- It is invisible to the naked eye but shine a light, and it is the key to stopping criminals.

"If someone steals your equipment you have a personal coded identification that will help us identify who the property belongs to, get it back to the person, and hold the thief responsible," said Merced County DA Larry Morse.

The Merced County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office are teaming up to bring SmartWater CSI to the farmers in the area.

It is almost like DNA, with just a swipe, valuables like tractors and pumps are embedded with a unique code tracing it back to its rightful owner.

Farmers like Louie Bandoni say they had thousands of dollars of equipment stolen and hopefully, this puts a stop to the theft.

"There's untold damage and costs, it's not just the item they stole. It's everything associated with it. I'm going to apply it to all our equipment," said Bandoni.

The technology recently helped Tulare County Sheriff's Deputy's arrest two men involved in a string of train horn burglaries.

"We've seen a significant double-digit reduction of our agricultural thefts in Tulare County as high as 11 percent in some of those areas," Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

The formula can last for years and is nearly impossible to wash off. It can even be put on personal valuables.

Sheriff Vern Warnke says he hopes this does not just solve the crime but helps prevent it from happening in Merced County.

"We got an area that's constantly targeted, then there is a spray feature that will get on clothes. It'll get on the person, the bad guy and they're not going to know it," said Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke.

Merced County is the second county in the state to offer this technology after the district attorney says they have had a rash of Ag thefts.

Deputies are hoping other departments jump on board to stop thefts throughout the Central Valley.
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