Symbols scrawled in chalk and paint outside homes, which came to be dubbed 'Da Pinchi Codes' out of fear they were being used by burglars to rate properties, are most likely utility symbols, indicating works to be done, police have said.
Stories began circulating in 2013 that burglars in Greater Manchester were using a set of symbols to prepare and rate properties before they returned to commit offences. Devon and Cornwall Police also used Twitter to alert homeowners to the tactic, urging people to scrub them off their properties if they spotted them.
The symbols, according to reports at the time, set out whether a vulnerable female was living alone, or whether the house was deemed "too risky" or had "nothing worth stealing".
However, on Monday South Worcestershire police said the location of the symbols near to crime scenes are "typically coincidental".
It wrote: "There is little evidence to show a connection to organised criminals, who prefer instead to use technology as a means to share information.
"Often, the majority of symbols cannot be attributed to anything other than utility companies, using the markings to indicate where work is required."
Police shared a guide of markings used by utility companies to correct the "misrepresentation attributed to criminals".
The force, however, ended its post by asking anyone concerned about "suspicious markings" appearing near their homes to contact them.
The chart suggests the open book-type symbol, originally believed to mean 'vulnerable female' in fact means a curb repair is required; a series of circles though to suggest a wealthy home owner, actually identifies 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.