Police will hand deliver Valentine's cards to known shoplifters with the advice they should spend the day with "your loved one, not us".
Durham Police are carrying out the crime prevention idea to try to reduce theft from shops.
Inspector Andy Reeves said: "In the next few days our local criminals will be getting a Valentine's card but it won't be from a secret admirer.
"We will deliver them by hand to the top 10 offenders in each area, with others receiving their cards in the post.
"And when it's their birthday and in the run-up to Christmas they can expect us to stay in touch as we will be thinking of them."
The scheme will take place around Bishop Auckland.