Householders are being urged to take advantage of a new property marking scheme to protect their belongings from burglars thanks to the expansion of a safety project.

Police and Crime Commissioner for County Durham and Darlington, Joy Allen, has secured an additional grant worth more than £23k from the Home Office’s Safer Streets Fund to invest in further security measures to increase public safety in Easington.

The funding comes on top of the £505,294 awarded to the Commissioner last year to boost home security and CCTV coverage in the area as part of the Safer Streets 2 project.

Since September, the Safer Streets team has been delivering home security upgrades and prevention advice to victims of burglary and their neighbours in Easington (Easington Colliery, Easington Colliery North, and Easington Village South).

Improvements have included window locks, internal timer lights, external sensor lights and double locks/deadlocks on external doors.

Thanks to additional funding worth £23,328, the team is now investing in further technology to help cut crime including the purchase of 200 Home Protection Packs.

The packs contain a transparent liquid known as SmartWater that has a unique forensic code. Once applied to high-value property such as a smartphone, bicycle or jewellery, it is undisputedly linked to the owner, aiding the identification and recovery of stolen property in the event of theft and helping to secure more evidence and convictions.

The Home Protection Packs also allow owners to mark their property with deterrent labels warning offenders of the presence of SmartWater to prevent crime.

Commissioner Allen said: “I welcome this extra funding which will enable us to maximise the safety and confidence of residents living in Easington.

“Prevention is everything. If we can stop just one burglary or theft taking place, we will have protected a resident from suffering the psychological and emotional distress of becoming a victim of crime.

“Hundreds of homes have already been secured as a result of this project and thanks to this additional funding, many more will benefit. Please take advantage of this offer if you are eligible and help us to keep our communities safe.”

Seaham and Easington Inspector Joanne Eales said: “We all know the distress and disruption such incidents cause to the victim when their property is stolen.

“By marking valuable sentimental items, it means it is much easier to identify and reunite them to their rightful owner.

“We want to make life as difficult as possible for these opportunist thieves and I would urge anyone who is eligible to take advantage of this scheme.”

Cllr John Shuttleworth, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for community safety, said: “We all know County Durham is a very safe place but any funding which goes towards helping cut crime further and increases peace of mind for our residents is to be welcomed.

“I’d encourage anyone interested in taking advantage of the Home Protection Packs to find out more and ensure their personal items remain as safe and secure as possible.”