AN INNOVATIVE crime prevention product, which has its own unique profiling system, is to be introduced in Teesdale in a bid to combat bogus callers.

Similar to DNA profiling, anything - or anyone - carrying the merest trace of SmartWater can be identified and authenticated, Insp David Allaway told Teesdale crime prevention panel on Tuesday.

SmartWater is a non hazardous chemical coding system that can be brushed on to property to mark ownership. It dries colourless and has the advantage of having millions of combinations, each coded and licensed to the individual customer.

When dry, it is virtually undetectable under normal lighting, but glows under ultraviolet light.

The manufacturer says it is almost impossible to remove completely, and even the slightest trace can be analysed for evidence. Codes are held on a secure central database, making it easy for the police to immediately identify recovered stolen property.

Insp Allaway said he hoped at first to target vulnerable people who had fallen victim to bogus officials and he asked for the panel's support in buying about 20 units of SmartWater. But if the interest was there, he would invite the public to buy it.

"It is quite expensive, but we can get it for £10 a unit through the crime reduction partnership," he added, feeling they might be able to get funding from elsewhere to assist.

He told how a team from Cleveland and Aycliffe had been targeting Teesdale with bogus callers, and there had been some arrests.

He added that criminals were aware of SmartWater, and just the use of a window sticker indicating that property was marked was often the only deterrent needed.

The product can also be used as an anti-burglary system to protect premises by spraying intruders with SmartWater. But because its forensic fingerprint can be identified from a minute trace, it is ideal for marking tiny items like computer chips and jewellery as well as larger items like antiques or farm machinery.

PC Mick Portbury said the police had also taken delivery of some ultra-violet equipment.

"We can stand at the roadside and flash it at passing cars. If the property inside has been stolen, it can be identified when driving past," he added.

Members agreed to endorse Insp Allaway's suggestion to buy 20 units of SmartWater.