WOULD-BE robbers planning to knock over Munmorah United Bowling Club can expect to cop a spray - and not just from the constabulary.
The club is the first in the area to install an anti-crime spray system.
Robbers who encounter the DNA Guardian Criminal Marking System are sprayed with a fine mist that leaves a unique forensic stain, making it easier for police to identify them.
Munmorah United Bowling Club chief executive Alex Moore said the technology was remarkable.
"Thieves now know that they'll be marked with a spray that can be matched only to our club," Mr Moore said.
The saline and water mixture contains an ultra-violet marking agent.
It places offenders at a venue at the time of a robbery.
The Australian company that developed the system said the spray remained detectable on skin and clothing for six to eight weeks "and cannot be washed off".
Mr Moore said the club was now protected around the clock.
If a hold-up occurs when the club is occupied, staff push hidden buttons to activate the system.
It arms motion-detecting units located conspicuously at the club entry and exit points, and in secret locations inside the building.
"I want this club to be a safe and secure environment for everyone. This is about minimising harm," Mr Moore said.
"This system is all about giving my staff and customers peace of mind because it is recognised as such an effective deterrent [to thieves]."
Mr Moore has been at Munmorah United Bowling Club for nine months, and said the club had been a target for robbers.
The most recent robbery occurred after the April storm.
The club had been without power for two days, and the battery back-up system for the alarm had expired.
Thieves gained access by smashing open a roller door. They stole a safe, smashed poker machines, and damaged the floor.
"They took advantage of us at our most vulnerable time, and at the one spot where we were vulnerable," Mr Moore said.
The club has since installed a steel security gate to protect the roller door.
There were already security shutters on all windows.
"And I put CCTV cameras inside the club just last week," Mr Moore said.
"We've got to do whatever we can to protect our business."
A veteran of 30 years in the clubs and pubs industry, Mr Moore said the full cost of a robbery exceeded the lost cash or stock.
"The emotional and psychological damage can be terrible," he said.
And then there's the loss of trade, the loss of customer confidence, WorkCover claims and insurance implications.