Author Topic: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking  (Read 1453 times)

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Offline GarryMartin

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Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« on: May 16, 2019, 10:07 AM »
Sadly, I keep reading about people that have had their vans or premises broken in to and their tools stolen. I don't work in the trade, but I have quite an investment in tools, so have been looking for a way to provide some additional peace of mind over the last few weeks.

I settled on a company called SmartWater Technology Ltd who offer a "Tools" package in the UK of forensic marking for approximately 100 tools that includes warning stickers for tools/vans/vehicles etc. It's £60 for the first year, and £24 every year thereafter, but that does provide for an extra bottle of the marking solution every year (for up to another 100 tools) and the marking lasts for at least 5 years.

Small price to pay for a slightly better night's sleep. 👍

https://shop.smartwater.com/tool-van-theft-protection/

https://www.facebook.com/SWTechnology/



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Online ChuckM

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2019, 10:41 AM »
Interesting concept.

My neighbor had a truckload of tools in his trailer (with a pad lock), and I asked him about theft prevention. He said the biggest lock in the world wouldn't keep his tools safe on the road...determined people would take the whole trailer off his truck, and that had happened in his trade. Insurance, a tax-deductible business expense, he said, was his only protection.

As a hobbyist, my home insurance covers everything including tools in my shop (formally, it is a garage). I have a security alarm system installed for the house (but not the garage), and that feature reduces my insurance premium a little bit. It would be interesting to find out if my insurer would look at the forensic marking kit that way.

As a precaution, if I am going to be away for vacation for an extended period of time, I move some of the  premium hand tools inside the house (my Festool stuff is kept in the house when not in use), leaving only the SawStop (500 pounds +) and the Kapex (chained to the workbench) the most valuable machines to be stolen.

Edit: Make sure you have a proper documentation or video clip of your tools (with or without receipts) so your insurance claim process would be smooth. I know the case of someone who was able to get a full replacement of all his stolen hand tools after the vendor (in this case Lee Valley Tools) gave him (a registered customer) a record of all his tool purchases from day 1.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 11:15 AM by ChuckM »

Offline GarryMartin

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2019, 10:54 AM »
I know it's a bit of heartless self-interest, but it's well known that you just have to look less of a target than the next guy. If there are two vans next to each other, and one has forensic marking warning stickers all over it, I know which one criminals will look at first...

Offline six-point socket II

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  • aka @the_black_tie_diyer
Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2019, 10:55 AM »
If you ask me, as useless as any type of marking/nfc locks/tracker i.e. It's merely a way to prove ownership if the tools get recovered. And the warning signs and labels scream: "Something valuable inside".

So unless required by law, I would mark the tools if it eases your mind, but trash any labels/signs. It's like owning a safe, you absolutely don't want anyone to know there is one.

Kind regards,
Oliver
Kind regards,
Oliver

Online ChuckM

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2019, 11:26 AM »
Snip.
I know it's a bit of heartless self-interest, but it's well known that you just have to look less of a target than the next guy.
True, especially of vehicles. Many cars or houses are targeted because they look to be an easier target. In winter, we have many cases of cars snatched from the driveways while warming up -- and unlocked. Crime of opportunity.

Online Cheese

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2019, 11:39 AM »
As a hobbyist, my home insurance covers everything including tools in my shop (formally, it is a garage).

I would double/triple check with your agent to make sure you're covered.  [big grin]

A number of years ago I had all my mechanics & machinist tools stolen. I was reassured by my agent that I was fully covered. Then the adjuster came out and I gave him the list of the stolen tools along with photographs. He said because of the quantity & the quality of the tools, I was obviously earning a living with them and therefore they were not covered because it was no longer under a homeowners policy. I should have had a separate professional use rider for the tools.

I then provided him with months & months of pay stubs from my employer saying this was just a hobby for my own vehicles but he refused to budge. After several weeks of haggling he made me an offer. Take it or sue us in court.  [mad] [mad]  They were a large insurance company, not some fly-by-the-night outfit. Liberty M...ya that same outfit that loves to customize their bicycles and calves. [censored]

I think the idea kind of cool...a sort of DNA for tools. [big grin]
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 11:42 AM by Cheese »

Online ChuckM

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2019, 11:43 AM »

I would double/triple check with your agent to make sure you're covered.  [big grin]

Thanks. No harm checking that when my home insurance is due for renewal.

A bit out of topic: rider fees are cheap in comparison to the benefits that they may offer. I saved over $5,000 recently because my vehicle coverage included a rider that I paid for ($15?).
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 11:49 AM by ChuckM »

Online jobsworth

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  • Festool Baby.....
Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2019, 12:09 PM »
I have a small yip yip dog that barks at everything and everyone. She protects my home. last thing a burgler wants is attention so the dog acts as a alarm, my .357 does the rest

Offline GarryMartin

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2019, 12:15 PM »
And the warning signs and labels scream: "Something valuable inside".

The same could be said for CCTV warning stickers and having an alarm bell box on the outside of your house.

They're all just potential deterrents for opportunistic thieves. Very little can stop targetted thefts. I'm not sure using the labels scream "something valuable inside" in the same way that marking your van with "no tools left inside overnight" would convince a thief not to bother...

Offline GarryMartin

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2019, 12:19 PM »
I would double/triple check with your agent to make sure you're covered.  [big grin]
Thanks. No harm checking that when my home insurance is due for renewal.

Mine aren't covered on my home insurance by default in the UK as they are classified as a "collection" because it is unusual for a "normal" citizen to have so many of such high value, so yes, definitely worth checking. If I wanted to add them, I'd have to list them all separately and would face quite a horrendous increase in premiums.

If anyone in the UK does know of a decent insurance provider that would cover them, I'd be interested to hear about it. I've got NFUM on the list to check out, but haven't heard of many others that cover tools in a residential context.

Offline RKA

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2019, 12:20 PM »
@Cheese I'm curious about this.  Was there overlap between the type of work you do at work...and the nature of the tools stashed away in your house that led them down this path?  I was only aware of a $ cap on the household possessions.  Never thought to look into the professional use thing, because my tools aren't used that way.  But your post got me thinking...what is true and what they may perceive are two different things and the burden of proof is on the guy that wants his money.   [sad]
-Raj

Online ChuckM

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2019, 12:32 PM »

 If I wanted to add them, I'd have to list them all separately and would face quite a horrendous increase in premiums.


With my previous insurer (here in Canada), I did that, faxing them a list of my collectibles (including antique mechanical banks, tin toys, fountain pens, etc. that are easily pricier than any of my Festool gears) and their values. The insurance premiums were not affected in any way, because such collection did not affect the max. amount of coverage for the contents of the house. Our insurance industries are obviously different. The list was more a record of my contents for claim processing purposes with the least of arguments or complications, just in case.

My home alarm system has served me well (crooks prefer easy targets...my neighbor lost a close to $2,000 bike after he left his garage door open for an afternoon while his family were all inside the house), and I monitor the shop with my cellphone and security camera if I step into the house for a bit of time (or remotely anywhere in the world as long as there is wi-fi).
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 12:47 PM by ChuckM »

Offline demographic

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2019, 12:55 PM »
I engrave my name into pretty much every tool I own.
Plus they go into a massive toolsafe in my van, I never leave tools on site. Most times a site gets done over there's talk about it be8ng an inside job. I'm pretty sure nobody wants to be working alongside me while I mull over who on site nicked my tools so it's better I take them in my van.
Then I don't have a signwrritten van, I doubt I ever will.
Carpenters/joiners vans are a high value target, lots of expensive powertools to sell in the pub.
Who nicks plasterers tools? Not many.

Offline six-point socket II

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  • aka @the_black_tie_diyer
Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2019, 01:00 PM »
And the warning signs and labels scream: "Something valuable inside".

The same could be said for CCTV warning stickers and having an alarm bell box on the outside of your house.

They're all just potential deterrents for opportunistic thieves. Very little can stop targetted thefts. I'm not sure using the labels scream "something valuable inside" in the same way that marking your van with "no tools left inside overnight" would convince a thief not to bother...

I don't know UK law - so this is from a German perspective:

As long as cameras only/solely cover private property, no sign is needed. An alarm system shouldn't be visible/obvious at all.

Security should be a coherent concept as "whole" - if it's intended to work.

Short story: The home, which backyard verges on my backyard has one of those pesky alarm systems featuring sound and a flashing red light. So the alarm goes off in the middle of the night. I waited for about 5 minutes to give the owner time to shut it off, doesn't happen. So I call the police, after all - it could be serious. The alarm system then went berserk for another 30 - 45 minutes. Then silence. Also, no police in meantime. By now, it happens every couple of months, never bothered to call the police again. It's bothersome waking up to that sound at mostly 2 or 3 AM but the owner refuses to fix/remove it. There could be the worst nightmare going on - no one will ever bother again to check.

Thats why my take on this is: Either do it right and 100% - or leave it as is.

Though, no offense, it's just one of those subjects that really, really bothers me.

Kind regards,
Oliver
Kind regards,
Oliver

Online ChuckM

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2019, 01:10 PM »
False alarms have forced the local Police here not to respond to any alarms unless the Alarm Monitoring vendors have dealt with them first. If the Police handle an alarm that turns out to be false, the owner is responsible for a service charge. We also are required to pay an annual fee to the Police for the alarm registration!

Online Cheese

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2019, 01:12 PM »
@Cheese I'm curious about this.  Was there overlap between the type of work you do at work...and the nature of the tools stashed away in your house that led them down this path?  I was only aware of a $ cap on the household possessions.  Never thought to look into the professional use thing, because my tools aren't used that way.  But your post got me thinking...what is true and what they may perceive are two different things and the burden of proof is on the guy that wants his money.   [sad]

At the time I was a 3M Design Engineer so there really was no correlation between my day job and my hobby.

It was a hobby garage with 8 other guys and 1 gal. They found the alarm wires that were housed in armored steel conduit and cut them. It was a metal Butler corrugated building so then they simply removed some of the fasteners and pulled back the metal siding to gain access. Once inside, they opened the overhead door and drove in a large truck or two...don't know how many. When the smoke cleared 12 upper & lower tool boxes were gone, all the TIG, MIG, Gas & Arc equipment, pedestal grinders, engine stands & floor jacks along with 2 complete small block Chevy crate motors and a wooden crate with 2 Ferrari 265 windscreens. I'm sure they had a lot of use for the Ferrari parts.  [jawdrop]

The final slap in the face was after they used the beam mounted electric chain hoist to load the heavy items and the crate motors, they then set up a ladder and stole the chain hoist. The ladder was still standing in the middle of the garage the next morning. It was a haul.

One of the other guys had the same insurance but a different agent. He was offered the same take it or leave it answer. When the adjuster arrives his job is strictly damage control. I was always told to visually document the tools or that would become a talking point, so I had tons of pictures of the tools actually in the tool box drawers. Every tool I added, I also added a photo to the archive which was a shoe box sitting off to the side. So tool ownership never raised its ugly head, the only other talking point left was do you profit from or use these tools to profit from....

My word versus the adjuster. I know my agent tried to go to bat for me but there's only so much he can do. The adjuster has final say.

To this day, 30 some years hence, when I need a tool I go to the box and start looking for it and then I realize, whoops...that was in the original tool boxes. [sad] [sad] [sad]






 

Offline RKA

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2019, 01:39 PM »
Well, that's unfortunate.  It's certainly a different scenario from Harry Homeowner with a hoard of Festools in his basement or garage.  And 30 years ago you might find it harder to convince them it was a "maker space".  You might still today, but at least they would know what you're talking about.
-Raj

Offline Jiggy Joiner

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2019, 01:43 PM »
Many years ago, some tools were stolen from one of my vans, luckily the thieves were seen by a witness, who supplied names and addresses of the thieves to a colleague.
I was only aware of the theft when the colleague phoned me later that evening.
I phoned the police for that area, and explained about the incident. They couldn’t care less and told me I cannot accuse people without proof. Why don’t you get round there and find the proof I asked? The reply was basically lots of nonsense quotes.

Don’t worry I said, I’ll sort it myself.
Because there were a lot of tools missing I desperately wanted them back. My wife came with me to a run down estate. I asked her to wait in the car, I knocked at the address given, a woman answered and asked if I were the police?
No, I said, my tools have been stolen by “name of thief” and I want them back so I can work tomorrow.
Come with me she said, she led me to a gang of 10-12 year old kids, she said to one, her son, give him his tools back.
These kids then opened up a lock up, it was full to the roof with power tools. I had to sift through everything until I found and checked my tools.
When the tools were loaded into the car, these kids asked if I wanted to buy some of the stolen stuff.
I lost my temper, then a group of older guys showed up, in their 20’s. They told me to put my tools back, when I refused it got nasty, it resulted in me handing out a bit of justice. Not nice for my wife to see.
After I dealt with two of them, the others ran off.

My wife and I got home, I was still putting the tools away when the police showed up.
They’d had a report, on investigating, they found two blokes had been assaulted, one had a broken jaw, the other lost teeth and had bruises.
The police told me, if these people make a formal complaint, I will be arrested?
I told the police if they’d done their job, I wouldn’t have needed too.

When my house got burgled, the police took hours to arrive, when one of my sons came home and asked where’s the police? I explained they’re busy. I later found out there were two police officers hiding in the bushes, 200 yards from my house with a speed camera, even whilst the burglary was taking place.

My vans now have armour shell locks as a deterrent. A few nights back, a neighbour’s van was broken into. I later discovered somebody had damaged a rear door lock on one of our vans.
Because they couldn’t get in, they decided blatant damage was still an option.

I didn’t call the police, they’re a waste of time. I’m now at an age where I no longer want to dish out my own justice or chase scum down the road. So I make the vans as secure as possible, and try and read the small print in my insurance policies.

There is a lot of truth in the saying “If they really want it, they’ll get it”
So deterrents seem a good option.

 

Online ChuckM

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2019, 01:52 PM »
Can't tell if it is still the same in police responses. When my neighbor reported his stolen bike (10 years ago?), two police officers showed up and knocked on neighbors' doors including mine, asking questions. Police investigations or not, the chances of recovering garage thefts are so slim that insurance is really our best course of recourse.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2019, 03:10 PM by ChuckM »

Online JimH2

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2019, 02:54 PM »
It is unfortunate that so many people have to live in crime ridden areas. I'm in a metro area and have never had anything stolen.

Offline MikeGE

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2019, 06:48 AM »
Snip...They found the alarm wires that were housed in armored steel conduit and cut them. It was a metal Butler corrugated building so then they simply removed some of the fasteners and pulled back the metal siding to gain access.

I don't know what kind of alarm was installed in the Butler building 30 years ago, but any alarm system that doesn't monitor itself (the cabling, sensors, and control unit) as well as the facility is not a very good system.  A proper intrusion detection system will have tamper alarms for all components of the system that will trigger on attempts to defeat the sensor or system, such as cutting the cables.

I recently retired from the DoD, but have 45 years of experience designing, specifying, installing, and maintaining intrusion detection systems for military facilities.  All of the sensors and most of the monitoring equipment used are commercial off-the-shelf systems, and available for purchase by anyone.  However, the cost of the system must be balanced by the value of the assets protected.

The sad truth is it is difficult, if not impossible, to prevent forced entry, and the best we hope for is to deter and detect.  We spend a lot of money on primary entrance doors to prevent covert or surreptitious entry, but the doors normally won't survive for more than 30 seconds under a dedicated forced entry attack.  At that point, it is up to the response team to arrive and secure the facility before the bad guys make off with our stuff.


Online ChuckM

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2019, 10:46 AM »
Where there is a will, there is a way:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/electronic-car-theft-rising-1.5138877

Given an enhanced version of this scanning technology, it might be possible that when you dine out, you could lose your car if it is parked outside the restaurant!

There is only so much we can do to prevent thefts as consumers. Leave the rest of our worries to the insurers.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 11:06 AM by ChuckM »

Online Cheese

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2019, 10:43 AM »

I don't know what kind of alarm was installed in the Butler building 30 years ago, but any alarm system that doesn't monitor itself (the cabling, sensors, and control unit) as well as the facility is not a very good system.  A proper intrusion detection system will have tamper alarms for all components of the system that will trigger on attempts to defeat the sensor or system, such as cutting the cables.


The funny thing is we put Medeco locks on every entry door. And on all the entry doors except for the front one, which had 2 Medeco locks and was under a mercury vapor security light, we welded U brackets to the door skins and inserted 2 x 4's between the door and the metal jambs to prevent the doors from being pulled open.
The garage door was a 16' x 14' tall chain drive, steel door and was impossible to open without a remote control or from the inside wall control.

Yet admittance was gained by simply removing a dozen 5/16" head sheet metal screws and peeling back the corrugated metal. Who'd have thunk?  [doh]  [doh]  [doh]

Offline demographic

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2019, 12:17 PM »
Seems that in a lot of large US buildings theres a small locked box with the master key to the building for the firemen to use.
All firemen in that area have the same key and you can get em off ebay.

Also the postmen have a similar setup to get them into the lobby to put post into the little postbox things.

Many elevator keys are the same as well as many other keys you wouldn't think should be, digger keys are often the same. As are police cars, which often get sold on to be taxis.

So potentialy a taxidriver can have a key that will fit a police car trunk and nobody stores anything dangerous in police car trunks do they... thats without getting into doors that unlock for people inside who want out and have IR sensors that can be fooled by something put between the double doors.

Online JimH2

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Re: Theft prevention? SmartWater forensic marking
« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2019, 01:10 PM »
Garage doors can be opened by any fire department electronically. Have seen brand new openers and 10 year old models cracked without any effort. Since they can do it you can assume there is a device that is sold somewhere that can do it as well.