Council bosses have teamed up with a crime prevention company to wash-out thieves.
After a number of reports of York stone paving flags being stolen from Sankey Canal, St Helens Council joined forces with SmartWater.
Paving along the canal has been sprayed with SmartWater, a liquid carrying an identifiable forensic code which can assist police in linking criminals to thefts.
It is hoped it will prevent further thefts but if more stones are stolen, it will be used to confirm they belong to the council and exactly where they were taken from.
The move follows an increase in paving stones, which are worth hundreds of pounds per square metre, being stolen from the area over a number of years.
St Helens Council’s cabinet member for green, smart and sustainable borough, Coun Seve Gomez-Aspron, said: “Sankey Canal is a vital part of the borough’s history and this blatant destruction of our heritage is unacceptable. Drastic action needed to be taken.
Sankey Canal is a vital part of the borough’s history and this blatant destruction of our heritage is unacceptable. Drastic action needed to be taken.Coun Seve Gomez-Aspron
“We needed something that would act as a deterrent and combat this type of crime, and that would also assist police in finding and arresting those responsible.
“This method will certainly allow us to do that as we look to continue to restore, preserve and protect this magnificent area - and we will not hesitate to prosecute those found to be guilty of theft.”
Steve Lloyd, SmartWater’s police and client support consultant for Merseyside, said: “SmartWater maintains a 100 per cent conviction rate when used as evidence in court and has aided the successful conviction of hundreds of criminals.
“As a result it is considered to be a powerful deterrent, which will directly benefit St Helens Council and make their paving stones identifiable and therefore significantly less attractive to thieves.”