Thieves beware, FAU is the first school in the country to be protected by SmartWater CSI

SmartWater CSI is a liquid tracking number students can use to tag their valuables and police can use to identify stolen property


Photo courtesy of Smartwater CSI

[Video by Alberto Santos]


University Police and  Student Government have brought SmartWater CSI to FAU as part of their new partnership initiative*.


SmartWater CSI is a water based forensic tracker students can use to tag their belongings and authorities can use to identify stolen property. The smallest bottle is about the size of a tube of lip gloss, with a similar cotton-tipped applicator to swab the liquid onto your property. This allows for 30 – 40 uses per bottle.


Photo courtesy of Smartwater

What makes it “smart?” It is digitally encoded with a forensic identification number. The solution dries clear and can only be detected under a special UV light that is not commercially available. It is traceable for up to five years.

Inside each SmartWater CSI kit students will receive the individually-sized forensic tracer with application instructions, a registration form and SmartWater CSI warning decals.

The liquid serial number is registered to the property owner. The information is loaded in to both the FAU PD and the SmartWater CSI databases.

While FAU is the first university in the country to use SmartWater, it is currently being utilized by at least 20 police agencies in south Florida.

“Oakland Park arrested someone that committed a robbery in Fort Lauderdale because of the SmartWater. Both agencies are using the product, they cross referenced the data and were able to work together,” said Antonio Arserio. Arserio is an operations manager with SmartWater CSI, an FAU alumnus and a former member of Student Government.


Photo courtesy of Smartwater CSI
Photo courtesy of Smartwater CSI

Over the summer Student Government allocated $9,000 for the purchase of 300 SmartWater CSI kits to be distributed among students. SmartWater donated an additional 250 kits, according to Student Government House Speaker Christopher Ferreira.

On Aug.14 and 15, FAU PD distributed an estimated 450 SmartWater kits during move-in to students at Heritage Park Towers and Innovation Village Apartments.

In conjunction with the SmartWater tracking kits, FAU PD also has 80 U-shaped bike locks to give to students in an effort to reduce the number of bicycle thefts on campus.

“Right now our pilot program has 80 [bike locks] but it’s our goal to have every bike on campus with a lock like that,” said Lieutenant Torsan Cowart of FAU PD. Cowart is a patrol commander and oversees the crime prevention program.

FAU PD recommends the U locks as the most effective type in preventing bicycle thefts, along with FAU PD registration stickers and now the SmartWater tracer.

“So you have three components to identify and keep that bike safe on campus,” Cowart said.

Besides SmartWater, students may register their property anytime with University Police by filling out a registration card with their address and contact information. The student receives a registration sticker to place on their property and university police then log the information into their database.


Students can come to or call the FAU PD at anytime to request their free FAU PD registration cards, SmartWater kits and bike locks while supplies last. While university police hope to purchase more bike locks and SmartWater kits to distribute annually, SmartWater will continue to offer its product to students at the reduced rate of $30.


“One of the number one things we have here on campus is property theft. So we figured if we could curb it with this technology, absolutely, we would do anything we can to prevent property theft,” said FAU Deputy Chief Sean Brammer.

Robberies and burglaries committed between 2011-2013:   FAU 2013 Crime Statistics.

According to the FAU Police Blotter, in the last two weeks alone, 10 counts of theft were reported, including:

One theft from the college of business

One theft from lot 23

Four thefts of bikes (2 from IVA South 2 from IRT East)

Two petty thefts ($100-$300) 1 occurring in the Student Services cafeteria

One theft of FAU property from Student Support Services

One grand theft ($1000+) from Wimberly Library

While the SmartWater kits are only available for student use during this pilot program, Brammer said it is FAU PD’s goal to use SmartWater in protection of school property as well. Larger, commercial-use versions of SmartWater are available including a pressure triggered spray system and an alarm triggered sprinkler system.

According to Arserio, SmartWater remains traceable on skin, clothes and hair for days, weeks, months or longer, depending on the culprit’s hygiene. The liquid signature is guaranteed to last on property for at least five years.

“Let’s say we’re having an issue in the College of Engineering, we can rig this, move this around, utilize it wherever,” said Brammer about the spray system, “we may not get you right away, but we’re coming. We’ll come get you, we’ll shine the light on you, and if you’re glowing, you’re gone.”

*For more on Student Government’s partnership efforts with FAU PD check out our upcoming print issue, available Oct. 28.