SmartWater is a solution applied to lead with a unique forensic code which allows stolen lead to be identified back to its source. It is an essential requirement of insurance policies with Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, and very helpful in securing convictions for lead thieves.

SmartWater is just one of the tools available to parishes in the fight against lead theft.  It is not a foolproof deterrent on its own and should be used in conjunction with other measures, such as a monitored alarm system.

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  • Ecclesiastical Insurance provide advice about ordering this product


For insurance renewals from 1 July 2011 onwards, Ecclesiastical won't pay out for lead theft or associated damage if your church is not SmartWater registered.  To support churches Ecclesiastical pays the annual SmartWater registration fee for all its customers. Their church policy provides cover for metal theft, and subsequent damage, as long as you have taken the following steps: 

  • Applied a forensic marking system approved by us (such as SmartWater) to external metal.
  • Registered the marking system with the provider, please note that if you purchase SmartWater quoting Ecclesiastical we will register the system for you.
  • Clearly displayed signage of the marking system to deter thieves.

We strongly recommend that you check to make sure you have BOTH applied SmartWater AND that you have had this appropriately registered - some churches have mistakenly thought they were registered when they actually weren't. 


SmartWater goes "off" after around 5 years, but possibly sooner depending on the level of exposure to the elements.  After 4 years from initial application you should use a UV lamp to see whether the SmartWater still glows fluorescent yellow - if it does then the solution is still going to be effective, but if not you need to apply new SmartWater.  


It's best to apply a continuous painted band at about 1 ml per metre (this is the amount you would apply with a half-inch brush).  This is better than dabbing every so often, as a continuous application makes it more difficult for thieves to remove marked sections.  You should apply to the complete length of the edge of any exposed lead; where sheets of lead have been laid side by side, Smartwater should be applied to alternate joints to ensure each piece of lead has one edge coated. 

It's best to apply SmartWater underneath the lead so that it doesn't show easily and is protected from the elements.  If applying to new lead, then you should apply it on the underneath section before the lead is fitted, if possible.  Where you need to apply it to an external surface, make sure the area being painted is clean and dry.

Page last updated: Tuesday 16th April 2019 9:37 AM
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