Police appeal to farmers in fight against rural thieves

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POLICE in Northumberland are urging farmers and rural residents to help them deter thieves.

Officers are asking for farmers, landowners and rural residents to take simple steps to help prevent burglars and thieves from stealing farm equipment and vehicles.

Last year 50 quad bikes were stolen in Northumberland, an average of nearly one every week.

Two tractors, 24 trailers and six horse boxes were also stolen between January and December.

Police have close links with the most rural of communities in the county via the Farmwatch scheme - a network of over 1,600 farmers, landowners and rural residents who share information with the police and partners via email, phone, text and face to face contact. The scheme also has close links to similar ones in Cumbria, Durham and Lothian and Borders.

DCI Colin Green, of Northumberland Area Command said: “Criminals may think that because of the rural nature of some parts of Northumberland that they are more likely to get away with crimes and that it’s easy pickings.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth. Across rural Northumberland we have a network of people acting as our eyes and ears in the most rural of communities. We can share messages about suspicious vehicles or people in minutes.

“We need those living in the rural communities to continue to help us tackle crime. Anyone living on a farm or in a rural village should report any suspicious activity to police as soon as they see anything. Ring the non-emergency number and speak to us, we will do the rest.

“I’d also ask for farmers and those with quad bikes, tractors and horse boxes to take some crime prevention measures to help stop thieves.

“Quad bikes are often targeted as they can be quite easy to sell on and relatively easy to steal. We’ve received many reports where the bikes have been taken after being left parked unattended on land with the keys left in the ignition.

“Ignition keys should always be removed when not in use and quads stored securely overnight. Owners should consider fitting their quad with a tracker device and overtly marking the bike and trailers with their postcode.

“Photograph your quad and keep an inventory of serial numbers, consider installing a remote alarm in your outbuildings and ensure all your external lighting is in working order.

“I’d also advise anyone who lives on a farm, or within a rural community to visit our website and sign up for Farmwatch. Just fill in your details and you will receive updates about what’s going on in rural Northumberland.”

To report a crime or any suspicious behaviour people can ring 03456 043 043, or in an emergency 999.

For more information on Farmwatch and to sign up to the scheme type Northumbria Police Farmwatch into an internet search engine, or ring PC Katrina Cassidy on 03456 043043 ext 63552