Motion-activated sensors, triggered as a thief enters, sprays an invisible, UV-detectable mist onto clothes and skin that is water resistant enough to survive for weeks. (Photo: iStock)

Updated Dec. 13, 2016, 6:45 p.m.

It’s burglar catnip: a large, unoccupied home late at night, with iPads and laptops strewn temptingly around.

Sure enough, one man did break in — exactly as the police had planned. Arrested, he protested his innocence, at least until law enforcement shined a black light in his direction and he glowed like a neon-yellow beacon. The bait he’d lifted was boobytrapped.

Motion-activated sensors, triggered as he entered, also sprayed an invisible, UV-detectable mist onto his clothes and skin that was water resistant enough to survive for weeks. It contained markers unique to the location, which allowed police forensics to place him decisively at the scene (the electronic gadgets he’d taken were also dabbed with the same solution). His subsequent conviction was seamless.

This was no episode of CSI, though: The sting took place in the British city of Nottingham, one of several trials undertaken as proof of concept by U.K.-based security firm, Smartwater.

“Criminals hate traceability, or anything that’s trackable,” explained ex-cop and company co-founder Phil Cleary from his office in the U.K. His scientist brother developed Smartwater’s proprietary technology, like ink packets in bank heists, but invisible. “We’ve had them attack our solution with bleach or acid, and they still can’t remove it.”

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