Fear of crime is very real in rural communities

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The fear of falling victim to criminals is very real amongst rural communities, according to local political representatives.

Mid Ulster councillor Frances Burton of the DUP explained that fear of crime existed in her area of south Tyrone.

She highlighted the instance of one man, whose house was robbed while he slept.

“People should be safe in their own homes,” she said.

Mrs Burton added that she firmly believed criminal gangs were at work in the Clogher Valley area.

“I believe there is a gang roaming the border area and targeting farmers,” she said.

“The gang are organised and clearly know what they are doing. When a lorry was recovered there wasn’t one piece of DNA evidence available.

“The PSNI is doing what it can with the limited resources available. However, the fear of crime is having a big impact on rural communities,” she added.

Concerns over manpower were also to the fore for UUP councillor Allan Rainey from West Tyrone.

Councillor Rainey said: “Does the police have the manpower to respond at a time of crisis?

“I would also ask what is being done in relation to the markets these groups find for the stolen machinery and livestock. These people are really well organised,” he added.

Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has welcomed the new initiative.

Mr Irwin (pictured) said: “Rural crime is an issue that is hitting the headlines on a regular basis and behind each headline is a farmer or rural dweller who has had machinery, livestock or other items of property stolen.

“In many cases these crime incidents have been carried out under the cover of darkness and locally in my own constituency they have involved the theft of valuable machinery and livestock and indeed recently there has been a spate of thefts of vintage tractors and in particular Massey Ferguson 135 tractors.

“It is also important to note that in other instances in my own district aggravated burglaries have been carried out which has caused great concern and shock to those elderly residents on the receiving end of these thuggish attacks. No one should be subjected to such ordeals in their own homes.”

He added: “I would also encourage the public to continue to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the PSNI immediately.”