BOSSES at a Hampshire harbour are the first in the country to adopt a widespread crime prevention scheme offering boaters a watertight solution to protect their vessels against crime.

The River Hamble Harbour Board is distributing security kits to all 4,000 boat owners moored at the waterside haven in Warsash when they return to their vessels for the beginning of the boating season this Easter weekend.

The SmartWater kits feature a forensic liquid which can be painted on valuable items such as outboard motors, radar equipment and radios.

The substance contains thousands of uniquely labelled microdots which show up under an ultraviolet light, allowing police to trace the owner’s stolen items.

Harbour master David Evans stressed that crime is low on the waterway, with an average of 12 thefts a year in the area, but he said: “This will provide a major deterrent to potential crime on the river and ensure property is protected.

“We urge all owners to act positively and responsibly to maximise that deterrent.”

The kits are developed by SmartWater Technology and are typically £45 each, but Hampshire County Council’s River Hamble Harbour Board have secured them at a reduced rate.

The substance lasts up to 20 years when applied to most surfaces, but the company recommends replacing it every five years to items regularly in contact with water.

Guy Nicholls, from Brook Lane, Warsash had to shell out £500 when the outboard motor for a dinghy he uses to travel to his 30ft cruising yacht was stolen.

He likened the crime to a household burglary and added: “It’s an invasion of your personal space.

“But this is going to be fantastic knowing that the vast majority of things are going to be protected.”

Board chairman Cllr Keith Evans put the deal’s success down to the authority’s partnership work with the police and harbour chiefs.