A Manchester c-store ­retailer plans to spray criminals with red dye in a bid to reduce hold-ups in his shop.

Robert Madden's store in Chorlton-cum-Hardy has been robbed seven times this year, and staff have been threatened with guns, knives, baseball bats and broken bottles. All efforts to combat thieves have failed and Madden said he had now been forced to install a drastic new system.

The Costcutter store is the first to try out a new forensic trace alarm. If confronted by a villain, staff press a panic button, setting off a red dye that is squirted from the ceiling. It takes several days to wash off, but has a UV element that contains a unique DNA that police can test to match the criminal with the crime.

Madden added: "We've put warning signs up in-store and haven't had a robbery in the three weeks since we installed it."

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents is backing the concept. The product, which was created by Redweb, costs £10 a week to lease.