DUP MLA William Irwin MLA has welcomed actions by the PSNI in investigating and disrupting rural crime in the area.
Mr Irwin said there was considerable concern out in the community regarding the issue of rural crime and added that the PSNI “were aware” of the depth of feeling amongst farmers and the rural community.
He stated: “I met on Thursday with senior Police in Newry and received a comprehensive update on the issue of rural crime. I know that on Monday past the PSNI mounted an operation in regards to rural crime in the Gilford area resulting in charges being brought in relation to various criminal offences.
“In another incident on Wednesday a jeep was found burnt out on the Lisraw Road Poyntzpass which was earlier reported as stolen in the Bushmills area of Co. Antrim. Police believe the jeep in question was used to transport stolen sheep to an arranged point on the Lisraw Road and the trailer was then hooked on to another vehicle before the criminals headed back over the border. The criminals obviously torched the other vehicle to avoid detection.
“Since the recent theft of lambs in the Poyntzpass area last week, another neighbouring farmer has had a number of animals stolen and that is a further cause for great concern. This clearly demonstrates that those criminal elements involved in this illegal activity are travelling significant distances and are stealing animals which are in good condition and ready for sale. They are also taking measures to reduce the chances of being detected. Those are all issues the PSNI must react to.”
He concluded: “I have kept in close contact with the PSNI and I will be continuing to liaise with both the PSNI and the local farming community. It is vital that police continue to actively target these criminal elements. I would also encourage our rural community to continue to remain alert and report any suspicious activity immediately to the PSNI.”