He was caught wet-handed.
A burglary suspect was busted thanks to a high-tech security system — which sprayed him with an invisible liquid that cops can trace.
Virginia man Christopher Gaines, 52, was charged with burglary, felony petit larceny and wearing a mask to hide his identity in connection with the break-in at the Ettrick Deli on East River Road in South Chesterfield, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
He has become the first person in the state to be charged with a crime based on the use of the telltale liquid.
He was collared as a suspect after police used a special ultraviolet light to detect the liquid nanotechnology on his clothing, according to the newspaper.
The colorless, odorless substance, which people can use to mark their property, is coded with a forensic technology that contains a unique signature for each user — allowing it to be registered and traced.
It is undetectable unless exposed to ultraviolet light, which makes it glow yellow-green.
On April 11, Chesterfield police responded about 11 p.m. to an alarm at the deli. After earlier break-ins at the business, police equipped it with SmartWater, along with a “delivery system” that can invisibly mark suspects.
The system, which police declined to identify, can be used in conjunction with alarm systems, or on the street in response to crimes including property thefts from vehicles.
When cops arrived at the deli, they located a man who ignored commands and fled on foot. The suspect, later identified as Gaines, was caught after a brief chase and found to be marked with the SmartWater, the Times-Dispatch reported.
Chesterfield police now scan every suspect for traces of the liquid on their body, clothing or belongings. The sheriff’s office also installed a SmartWater detection camera in a vestibule that all new prisoners pass through.
“Once in that small area, the arresting officer will activate the detection lamp which takes seconds and looks for the telltale signs,” Sheriff Karl Leonard told the news outlet.
The liquid remains on property for at least five years and provides information to investigators about an item’s place of origin, according to the report.
The SmartWater CSI company — which originated in England 25 years ago — came to the US in 2013 and initially focused on three counties in Florida to “prove that the technology would work just as well in the US as it did over in Europe,” company official Randy Butschillinger told the Times-Dispatch.
Before becoming police chief in Chesterfield in January 2018, Jeffrey Katz served as the top cop in Boynton Beach, Florida.
“We’re in over 70 neighborhoods in Boynton Beach, and that was when he was down there as the police chief. And they averaged 38 percent reductions in burglaries,” Butschillinger said.
In Virginia, Katz’s department invested $10,000 in startup costs for a five-year contract, which includes kits for homeowners, police training, products for covert law enforcement operations and analysis of recovered property.
“When you’re the new kid on the block, so to speak, it takes a little bit of time to get people to understand what the technology and the programs can do for them — but also accepted enough to invest in a program,” Butschillinger told the paper.