POLICE have back-tracked on their interpretation of 'worrying' symbols appearing outside residents' homes over the recent past and now claim they are probably 'completely innocent'.

South Worcester Police social media sites have said the strange signs which have been thought in the past to have been left by undesirables to indicate a potential property to target for theft or fraud purposes have a less sinister meaning.

Forces from around the UK have been reported in the past to have suggested the signs could be the work of criminals, and issued subsequent warnings, although it is not believed these messages have been forwarded by police in West Mercia or South Worcestershire.

A spokesman for South Worcestershire Police said: "We are aware of messages circulating again on social media purporting to be describing the ‘Da Pinchi Code’ or ‘criminals' code’ of paint or chalk markings left outside properties, identifying future potential targets for thieves and burglars.

"This recurring story has been given further credence after previously being picked up by major news outlets and even police departments here in the UK and also overseas.

"However, there is no actual evidence to link these symbols to anything other than completely innocent and easily explainable activities. In fact it’s more obvious than some may realise."

They have released a 'chart' of the symbols commonly referred to, along with their supposed ‘criminal’ meaning and also the true designation as used by utility companies to highlight work that is earmarked to be done at a particular spot.

In August last year, Warwickshire Police is understood to have warned residents in the county about a series of brightly-coloured, painted symbols that had appeared on roadsides at Bedworth and stated they could be connected to the so-called Da Pinchi Code which supposedly helps burglars identify possible targets.

Officers said Da Pinchi codes indicated different things about occupants, such as that the occupants were on holiday, were a 'good target', an alarmed house, already been burgled or too risky.

They had gone as far as suggesting now was a good time for people to install security lights of CCTV if they had been thinking about doing do.

The chart suggests the open book-type symbol, originally believed to mean 'vulnerable female' now means a kerb repair is required; a series of circles suggesting a wealthy home owner, in fact is utility company speak for the number of duct cables buried and two offset squares does not indicate a 'nervous and afraid' resident but 'potential movement of manhole/cover'.

The chart also shows underground utility colour codes.