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Anti-theft underground bag

SEAL is a new product developed to restrict access to underground networks and other infrastructure that are the target of metal thieves.

SEAL by the forensic marking product company SmartWater Technology has an extendable steel brace, to prevent intrusion, and a mouldable bag which is customised to fit almost any shape or size the makers say. The UK-made bag is fitted with forensically coded and patented SmartWater SmartGel, uniquely registered to the location of the device’s deployment.

Openreach, a BT Group Business, has become the first in the UK to deploy SEAL, after approaching the product firm about developing a product to combat underground infrastructure theft. Devices are now in use at high-risk locations, and none have been attacked since their installation.

Bernie Auguste, General Manager of Security Services for Openreach, said: “Ensuring that our customers do not suffer the loss of service is of paramount importance to us, and SEAL is another tool to help us achieve this. A key benefit of SEAL for Openreach is the rapid deployment capability. We provide it at key points in our infrastructure, where we have an emerging or potential threat. Our aim is to significantly reduce the likelihood of a criminal attack and SEAL will help us until a longer term security solution can be actioned.”

And Phil Cleary, Chief Executive and co-inventor of SmartWater, said: “The development of SEAL underlines our commitment to innovative thinking and our determination to help our clients overcome the crime-related challenges they face. We believe SEAL has global application and is already attracting attention in a number of overseas territories.”

The product can also act as a temporary health and safety measure to reduce risk of injury to the public whilst a replacement manhole cover is sourced. In the event of a criminal attack on SEAL, the mouldable bag will rupture, covering tools, clothes and hands in uniquely-coded, patented SmartGel. Any traces of the gel will glow under UV light, providing a forensic link between criminal and crime scene. The gel will remain on skin and hair for weeks and is virtually impossible to remove from clothing, footwear and tools, the makers say.


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