Technology used to deter Leeds paving slab thieves

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By Tim Dale

BBC News

Paving stones in Leeds are being specially marked to deter thieves after a rise in the number being stolen.

Yorkstone paving is highly prized for its durability and weathered look and can be expensive to replace due to its price.

Leeds City Council said it was now marking slabs with a traceable liquid only visible under ultraviolet light.

The authority said it hoped it would help identify stolen slabs and cut the cost of replacing them.

Yorkstone is only mined from quarries in Yorkshire and has a long history of being used on streets in Leeds.

Helen Hayden, the council’s executive member for sustainable development, said the authority hoped using the traceable liquid would send a clear message that thefts would “not be tolerated”.

“The theft of Yorkstone 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,” she said.

The SmartWater liquid being used by the council to mark the slabs was invisible to the eye, but it glowed yellow-green under ultraviolet light, according to manufacturer DeterTech.

The use of the liquid currently covered 20 streets across three wards in Leeds that are considered at high risk of paving stone theft, the firm said.

Gary Higgins, from the company, said the technology had a 100% conviction rate in contested court cases.