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Security Locator Tabs & Smart Water


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Always concerned about my Concertinas being stolen .I try to keep them with me at all times when out and in a locked car boot or house at other times .Unlike some instruments they are hand made can not be replaced .Being small they would be difficult to trace or even prove who they belong to .I wondered if smart-water could be used.The water has a code that will lead back to the owner.Also wondering if it would be useful to fit a locator tab to my case  . Any Thoughts .?


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I never heard of SmartWater until just now, and know nothing about it except what I just read on their web site. Looks like it’s primarily designed to protect stores, museums, and other common burglary sites, and that much of its value is the deterrent nature of the sign that says it’s in use. I don’t know how that would apply to a concertina. Even if you sprayed some on it, it would be worthless unless some honest person who encountered the concertina knew to look for it.


Apple’s AirTag looks promising. You could put one in your case (hidden under the lining) or even inside the instrument. Of course, you'd need to have another Apple device to keep track of it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

It comes in a small vial and is unique to you almost like DNA in theory. You paint a small dot unobtrusively and it will be invisible when dry. It’s only detectable in UV light. Most police forces screen their stolen recovered property to see if it’s marked with smart water and then they know by checking smart waters database who it has been stolen from.


it doesn’t stop items being stolen as such but it means than your item can be returned to you. It also means that the suspect can be charged for either handling or theft. It acts as a deterrent 


Tracker tabs do as they say in that you can track the item which may aid in its recovery but a determined thief could remove it if they suspected it was there and located it.

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Yes, but in the case of a stolen concertina, somebody has to first suspect that it is stolen and then it has to find its way to a police station. I would think most stolen concertinas are in the hands of thieves or unsuspecting buyers, and thus will never be screened for SmartWater.

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There is a huge market for small trackable devices ,not only for valuables but for children valuable items etc, 

Sadly what is available has not a World wide tracking system, perhaps linked to a satellite is maybe the future answer.


I am reminded of a sign outside a building site in Battersea London near to where I lived that said

"THIEFS WILL BE DEALT WITH" and I am sure if any of us find a thief that has stolen our concertina they will be !!


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Well, I don't know. All the website tells us about the durability of SW (probably for good reasons) is that it is "remaining on skin for weeks and indefinitely on clothing." Even if the clothing is being washed regularly? Hm. Yuck. So what about other surfaces? Nothing truly remains indefinite, so we should assume that Smart Water will eventually disappear from surfaces treated with it. So if it should be sweat that washes the substance off human skin, a good idea would be to NOT dab the SW on those concertina surfaces that are in contact with bare skin. That leaves us with... uhm... well...


Also, nothing can be deferred about what happens if you overdab one layer of SW with another. so if I WERE a concertina thief AND SW would be a threat, I might consider overdabbing every candidate surface with a layer of SW of my own, which would effectively make me the legal owner, no?


I'd also agree with David that the use case for concertinas is rather limited. Since every owner of a quality concertina knows the serial numbers and the individual look and wear traces of his/her instruments by heart anyways, it wouldn't necessarily need a SW tracker to provide proof of ownership: If the instrument ever showed up in public, the theft victim would need to take the case (not the concertina case, but the prospective theft case) to the police anyways. If if didn't... well...


As for tracking devices: They're all nice and dandy as the saying goes, but on the downside, they're all battery operated, which means the batteries must be replaced frequently. According to Murphy §23.4, a theft always takes place very close to or after the battery exchange due date (I know because I once gave a key tracker to my beloved. Guess at what time we really needed it?).




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Smart Water is a bit smarter than RAc surmises. It would disappear from skin because the surface of the skin itself is being shed. And it's not like UV ink, where information can be read under UV illumination. All the UV does is reveal that a Smart Water marking is present. You need special facilities to read the code in the microscopic particles. If a villain adds their own on top, that would not remove the original particles.

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3 minutes ago, Richard Mellish said:

 If a villain adds their own on top, that would not remove the original particles.


Interesting, thanks or the explanation! Do you happen to have more information about the durability of SW on other surfaces (eg french polished wooden surfaces)?


As for the above clarification, wouldn't that also imply that any device that has TWO dabs with different codes on it would make it legally difficult to distinguish the age of the two dabs and therefore the original ownership? What happens if the target object has been legally sold and now contains two dabs? What if the original owner doesn't bother to remove his code from the database (which will very likely happen in many cases) and thus the object can now be attributed to two owners?

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3 hours ago, RAc said:

What if the original owner doesn't bother to remove his code from the database (which will very likely happen in many cases

This is not a concertina story, but ...


Last October a boat from our local marina set off very (very) late in the season from Halifax, Nova Scotia heading towards Bermuda.  About 40 miles off Bermuda the boat was in trouble and fired off their EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Relay Beacon) which relayed a distress call via satelite. 


If you own an EPIRB then you have to register the ownership and vessel details so that Search and Rescue know what they are looking for, and for them to be able to eliminate false alarms.  The last registration for this EPIRB was for a boat in New Zealand that eventually sailed to Canada and was sold.  The seller sold the EPIRB separately from the boat and the new owner did not re-register it.  Then the EPIRB changed hands again to the owner of the boat in trouble off Bermuda.  He also did not re-register it.


So now the US Coast Guard knew about the EPIRB firing off and they contacted the registered NZ owner who, of course, said 'Not me, Guv'.  Amazingly they subsequently managed to trace the series of ownerships back to the owner in trouble in the time it took a Hercules Search and Rescue aircraft to fly to the location of the alarm.


Once in place the S & R folks diverted a container ship who picked up the crew mid-ocean in very bad weather, the husband and wife crew plus their cat had to scramble up a very long 'Jacob's Ladder' let down from the ship.


Their own boat was badly damaged and is thought to have sunk mid-ocean.


If folks cannot be bothered to register an essential piece of life-saving equipment than I doubt that registering a concertina is going to be top of mind.

Edited by Don Taylor
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Hello RAc,

I’m assuming that you’re asking about a piece of furniture as opposed to a concertina. You could put a dab on the under side where it would last indefinitely. Or on the inside of a leg or you could do both.As for a concertina I would put a dab between the bellow folds on the underside. 

You register your vial with the smart water company. Where there are two dabs if the original owner claims that the concertina was stolen from them, it would be returned to them, even though you as the second person had bought it in good faith. That’s the law and why they always say buyer beware. If you buy a stolen item even in good faith it’s not legally yours if the original owner wants it back.


There  are two types of smart water, ones that work in shops that effectively detonate all over a thief. This is where you see that it’s all through their hair and clothing. The other is sold in tiny vials, often given away by insurance companies if you take out their insurance. I can only describe it as looking like nail varnish but one that goes invisible.


As I said earlier it’s detected by UV, but as someone else pointed out, that’s only the beginning there are markers in there that are invisible. Smart water don’t divulge what they put in it but each vial is unique. You make it yours by registering your details against your vial.


I understand about what people are saying about knowing their concertinas but it does no harm if you’re given a free vial to put a dab on. You’re instrument could be missing for years and go through a pawn shop or an auction house. Most pawn shops check their items as far as I’m aware and a reputable auction house selling a high end instrument should check. None of these places want a reputation of handling stolen goods.

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