Usually, it's the burglars who are sneaky. But the crime-busters at Britain's Forensic Science Service, or FSS, have a tricky new weapon that's striking fear in the hearts of thieves: invisible ink. Trip one of the latest burglar alarms from Securicor Alarms Ltd. in Walton-upon-Thames, and you get spritzed with an odorless dye. It's harmless, except that it won't wash off soon.
Developed by Detective Philip Cleary and his brother Michael, a chemist, the dye serves as a brand. If it shows up under an ultraviolet light, it proves the wearer was at one specific place, because the FSS provides a unique chemical formulation for each store or home. Although the new Securicor alarms, which rent for about $16 a week, have been available only for a few weeks in Bristol, burglars seem to be heading for safer pickings. Local break-ins are down 75%, according to the government's Crime Prevention Center.