A traceable liquid that could help police catch culprits is being sprayed onto Yorkshire stone flags after a rise in thefts.
Leeds City Council has teamed up with crime-prevention firm SmartWater as part of a new initiative to tackle the problem.
Public stone flags across the city will now be sprayed with a traceable liquid which carries a unique forensic code.
The scheme was launched after nearly 300 Yorkshire stone flags were stolen last year.
Coun Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “The number of public paving stones that we have had to replace due to thefts in our communities has unfortunately risen in recent years.
“It was for this reason that we decided to investigate what options might be available to us to not only act as a deterrent and help reduce this crime, but also at the same time assist the police in arresting any perpetrators.”
The liquid can link offenders to thefts by revealing whether the stones belong to the council, and where in the city they were stolen from.
A total of 274 Yorkshire stone flags were stolen in Leeds in 2014/15, nearly double the amount stolen in 2013/4. And from 2010-2015, 1,075 flags were stolen by thieves across the city.
Phil Cleary, chief executive of SmartWater, said: “SmartWater has aided the successful conviction of hundreds of criminals. As a result it is considered to be a powerful deterrent, which will benefit Leeds City Council and make their Yorkshire paving stones significantly less attractive to thieves.”