5 Creative Ways Cops Are Cutting Down on Crime

Could these innovative ideas handcuff criminals?

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Spray SmartWater

Spray SmartWateriStock/Thinkstock
Criminals, beware: Police officers, pawn shop owners, and ordinary citizens in the UK and U.S. are covering valuables with SmartWaterCSI, a non-hazardous liquid that leaves a long-lasting stain on a perpetrator's hands, clothes, and body. Viewed under a black light, the liquid glows green. Each bottle of SmartWaterCSI is specially formulated, meaning criminals can be linked to a specific crime.

Track it like an earthquake

Track it like an earthquakeiStock/Thinkstock
Police departments in six states are employing "predictive policing" to stop crime before it starts, using the same mathematical formulas that seismologists use to predict earthquake aftershocks to analyze information about previous infractions. "We're looking for the thing that will take us to the next level [in crime prevention]," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told Los AngelesTimes reporter Joel Rubin. "I firmly believe predictive policing is it."

Lower our exposure to lead

Lower our exposure to leadiStock/Thinkstock
A study from Amherst College suggests that the removal of lead from paint and gasoline in the 1970s and 1980s brought about a 56 percent drop in violent crime in the 1990s. "Lead exposure appears to impair...cognition and reduce impulse control," writes Jessica Wolpaw Reyes, lead author of the study. Other experts suggest that reducing lead in homes and businesses now could yield a 10 percent drop in crime over a few decades.

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Install more street lights

Install more street lightsiStock/Thinkstock
Experiments in Britain suggest that something as simple as lighting a dangerous area can significantly reduce crime. When officials installed street lights every 100 feet along a mile-long stretch Dudley, England, crime dropped 41 percent over four weeks. A trial in Stoke-on-Trent, England, produced similar results.

Play classical music

Play classical musiciStock/Thinkstock
Anecdotal evidence suggests that blasting classical music in dangerous areas can help deter bad behavior. In London in 2004, British Transport Police piped the tunes into tube stations with high crime rates, and over six months' time, robbery and vandalism in the stations each decreased more than 30 percent. Experiments in Los Angeles and West Palm Beach have had similar results.

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