Intelligence from members of the farming community has played a vital role in two recent operations, which saw police recover stolen farm machinery worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
It comes after police warned of heightened criminal activity in isolated, rural communities due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has prompted farmers to tighten safety measures to secure farm equipment from thieves.
Recoveries were made by Warwickshire police rural crime team and the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NAVCIS) in two separate operations on March 13 and 16, which included the seizure of caravans, livestock trailers, tractors and telehandlers.
Highlighting the invaluable efforts of farm watch groups in aiding the investigation, rural affairs specialist and leading insurer at NFU Mutual Rebecca Davidson, said: “These are great efforts and clearly show how police can take action to clamp down on rural criminals when they make use of reports from individuals and farm groups on stolen equipment and suspicious sightings of people and vehicles."
Detective constable Chris Piggot from NAVCIS echoed this and added stolen machinery had been successfully returned to its owners and arrests had been made ‘thanks to information from farmers’ alongside the ‘determination’ of the police to effectively utilise resources to tackle organised rural crime.
Farmers are also being urged to take extra care to ensure livestock is protected as thieves have tried to cash in on the demand for food amid the crisis, which has seen a surge in reported farm animal thefts.
NFU Mutual have highlighted current farm machinery theft ‘hot spots’ for tractor and farm loaders include Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire with the trend for all-terrain vehicles (ATVS) covering Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Hampshire.
For more information about rural security and rural crime trends, visit: nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime.