Increased thefts of valuable York stone costing Leeds taxpayers 'tens of thousands of pounds' every year
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Leeds City Council has begun forensically marking York stone paving slabs following a concerning rise in targeted thefts. It’s hoped the initiative will deter criminals and assist West Yorkshire Police in bringing thieves to justice.
Reclaimed York stone is widely valued for its durability, quality and attractive naturally weathered look. It can only be mined from Yorkshire quarries and commonly retails for hundreds of pounds per square metre.
It has a long history of being used on the streets of Leeds contributing to older parts of the city’s distinctive character.
Councillor Helen Hayden, executive member for sustainable development and infrastructure, said: “The theft of York stone paving slabs costs taxpayers in Leeds tens of thousands of pounds per year, at a time when council budgets are in crisis, as well as creating health and safety risks and ruining the look and feel of some our most historic streets and walkways.
"We are determined to crack down on this which is why we are pleased to have partnered with DeterTech to use SmartWater technology. We hope this sets out a clear message that such thefts will not be tolerated.”
SmartWater is a unique traceable liquid that is invisible to the naked eye but glows yellow-green under ultraviolet light. It lasts for a minimum of five years and allows police to trace stolen paving slabs back to the street from which they were stolen.
It has a 100% conviction rate in contested court cases, with DeterTech’s forensic scientists only requiring a trace of SmartWater the size of a pinhead to irrefutably trace stolen property back to the original owner.
The deployment of the technology currently covers 20 streets across three wards in Leeds that are considered at high risk of paving stone theft.
Gary Higgins, Director of Commercial Operations, DeterTech said “SmartWater is widely feared by the criminal fraternity meaning we should see an instant reduction in the targeting of Yorkstone paving.
"Anybody stupid enough to ignore this warning should know we are putting police in the best possible position to convict them.”