Forensic property-marking technology is being trialled in Hawke's Bay by Housing New Zealand.
"It's no secret that properties whether state or privately owned, particularly when vacant, can be a target for theft," Housing New Zealand's tenancy-services team leader Andrew Cairns said.
"In order to prevent and reduce this activity we are working with police and marking property in the area with the forensic material, which means if the property is stolen it can be traced."
Selecta DNA technology is a theft-reduction solution which is invisible and nearly impossible to remove. The solutions DNA code is unique and used to cover property surfaces so stolen property can be traced to its origin. It has also been used successfully by schools and banks.
"Theft of hot water cylinders and other housing materials does unfortunately happen," Mr Cairns said. "We provide housing for some of society's most in need, so when you find out one of our properties has been targeted it is particularly frustrating.
"The last thing we want is for our properties to attract crime and antisocial behaviour, so in some areas in the Hawke's Bay we are removing some properties that have been vacant for some time.
"The reality is that leaving a property vacant until it might be needed is not an option that we, the police and members of the community want if it is going to reduce safety in the community and become a magnet for theft or vandalism.
"We are also appealing to residents to call us on 0800 801 601 or the anonymous Crimestoppers (0800 555 111) line if they see or know about theft relating to our properties."
Police say empty houses are a target for vandalism and graffiti and any initiative to help prevent such damage will be helpful.
As well as alarms, police rely on neighbours to report any signs of suspicious activity around empty houses and encourage people to call them immediately if they see something.
Depending on the success of the Hawke's Bay trial, the technology may be used across the country.