POLICE are hunting a ‘green’ man after a would-be thief was sprayed with vegetable dye by a have-a-go-hero.

The offender was tackled by a homeowner in Romford Street, off Padiham Road, Burnley, when he smashed his way into a parked car.

He was sprayed on the face, arm and leg as he sat in the driver’s seat of the car, leaving him with green colouring on his skin.

According to its manufacturers, the strength of the product, called DyeWitness and bought off eBay for £15, means the offender, believed to be around 5ft 7 ins, could be ‘green’ for up to 10 days.

The would-be thief ran off with an accomplice after escaping from the car.

After the incident, the have-a-go-hero homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, told how he had leapt into action with the can of green dye after spotting his neighbour’s car being attacked.

The dad-of-two bought the American-made DyeWitness five years ago after being attacked yards from his house, but had never used it before.

He said: “I was sat in the house watching TV when I heard something outside and saw it was a couple of lads trying to break into a car across the road.

“I grabbed the can of DyeWitness and told my daughter to get a big stick and I went outside.

“I saw the lad sat in the driver’s seat of the car.

"He’d smashed the window so I thought, I must do something, and sprayed him in the face.

“As soon as I had, he got up and ran off like a chicken.”

Meanwhile, the thief’s accomplice, who was stood yards away from the car, launched a full can of lager at the man, leaving him with a large bruise on his arm.

The act of bravery was lauded by neighbour Karen Williams, 47, whose Renault Laguna was left with a smashed window.

Nothing was stolen from the car.

Mrs Williams, who lives in Romford Street with husband Tim, 50, said of her hero neighbour: “He is a great guy and he is always looking out for people.

“My car could have been nicked if he had not intervened so I am really in his debt.

“I have heard the green dye could stay on him for days. Hopefully someone will spot him.”

After the incident, which occurred between 12.45am and 1am on Tuesday, police launched a witness appeal and asked anyone spotting a ‘green man’ to come forward.

DyeWitness, which is legal, contains vegetable dye which stains human skin but is ultimately harmless.

Sergeant Carole Langhorne, from Burnley Police, said: “The dye is quite widely available and won’t have caused the man much harm but it probably will stay on his skin for a few days.

“With that in mind, we are appealing for anyone who might have spotted the man to come forward.

“He may well have vital information about the damage to the car.

One of the men was described as about 5 ft 7ins and aged between 18 and 25.

Police believe one was wearing a tracksuit top, jeans and trainers and the other a hooded top, a baseball cap and tracksuit bottoms.

Call Burnley Police on 01282 425001 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 with information.