ALLOTMENTS in Hartlepool are to be protected from theft and criminal damage by a new crime prevention initiative.

A trial of SelectaDNA coding kits, which will allow gardeners to mark their property with an individual code, is to take place at a number of sites across the town.

Details of the code will be stored on a database so that if property is stolen and then recovered by police, its owner can be easily traced.

The first allotments to implement the scheme will include sites at Throston, Thornhill Gardens, Chester Road and St Nicholson’s Field. Signs warning that DNA coding is in use will be displayed.

The allotments were selected as the first to take part in the scheme after they were identified as suffering from problems with theft, burglary and criminal damage. If successful, the scheme will be rolled out across the town.

Crime Prevention Officer Steve Davies said: "The use of SelectaDNA on allotment sites will provide forensic evidence to help police tackle criminal activity. The DNA element of the product will irrefutably link any criminal to the scene and will provide police with the required evidence for a criminal conviction at court."

For more information call 01429-405598.