CO-OP is trialling fog cannons in shops across the UK in a bid to crack down on theft in a move which it claims is a first among major retailers.
The cannons spray thieves with a special water that appears as a thick fog, which is designed to block vision and thwart any attempts to steal.
Co-op The cannons will spray out a “Smart Water” that can be used to trace thieves
It also leaves an invisible residue on the body and clothes of the robber, which shows up using UV lights, and can be used to link criminals and stolen goods back to the scene of a crime.
The supermarket wouldn’t tell us how many stores the new technology is being trialled at or how long the trial will last but said it will be across branches in London, Greater Manchester and South Wales.
There were over 950,000 incidents of theft estimated to have taken place in convenience shops in the year to March 2018, according to trade body the Association of Convenience Stores’ 2018 Crime Report.
That’s up from 575,000 in the previous year. Meat, cheese and alcohol – in that order – were the three items most likely to be stolen.
Co-op Co-op believes it’s the first of the major retailers to trial the technology
In addition, there were 9,304 incidents of robbery using force or the threat of force and 2,859 cases of burglary, which is where someone enters a property without permission.
It’s hoped that signs in shops warning criminals of the fog cannons, which could be located by shop doors, windows, roofs or tills, will be enough to put people off.
But if it doesn’t, once criminals cross a certain threshold the cannons will be automatically triggered by sensors to spray out a foggy mist.
Tiny particles in this so-called “SmartWater” contain a unique code which is then traceable to each location.
Co-op says the water is not DNA based, meaning it withstands heat and humidity, and it can last at least five years.
The canons will spray a special water onto criminals that’s visible under UV lights
Andrew Needham, Co-op head of retail loss and costs, said: “Safety and security is our number one priority.
“We know that violence and crime is about much more than statistics, it is about its impact on people’s lives and the communities in which they live and work.
“As a community-based organisation we see the impact of social issues in our stores, and we’re committed to playing our part and working together to do all we can to protect colleagues and make our communities safer.”
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But the SmartWater isn’t the only interesting development made by the supermarket. It is currently testing a robot delivery that whizzes groceries to your door in 15 minutes.
When it comes to food, the supermarket has a curry and four-pack of beer on offer for £7 until March 26.
It’s also recently launched an Echo Falls gin-infused rosé.
Knife-wielding robber with Santa hat on caught in terrifying raid on Co-op
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