Police carried out a day of focused activity in a bid to get tough on rural crime.
Operation FarmWatch ran throughout many Policing Districts throughout Northern Ireland and involved officers conducting searches, VCPs and carrying out engagement opportunities with partner agencies, on Tuesday, November 21.
Rural and agricultural crime is a serious issue and police have said they understand the concerns of those who have been directly involved. They are also keen to stress that the PSNI takes a robust approach in tackling all crime, including those which affect the rural community.
However, the day of action comes against the backdrop of further appeals for members of the rural community to take steps to protect their property following thefts of vintage tractors and trailers.
Outlining the aims of the Police operation, Supt. Brian Kee said: “We are committed to reducing rural and agricultural crime across Northern Ireland. Police want to work towards reducing opportunities for this type of crime by increasing public awareness, working with other partner agencies to identify ways of preventing crime, and targeting and arresting those committing such offences.
“During the operation, officers from a number of Policing districts throughout Northern Ireland, visited farm properties, gave advice on protecting property, and worked with our colleagues in DEARA and HMRC, inspecting vehicles and conducting VCPs in a number of areas.
“Rural and agriculture crime affects more than just those people who are direct victims; it impacts on jobs, the environment and the economy. It is a concern for all of us and I would therefore ask for assistance from the public in providing information that may support us in continuing to prevent crime and arresting those individuals or gangs that carry out offences within rural communities.
“This initiative is important in helping to prevent crime against the rural community and to build even closer relationships between all agencies, the PSNI and the farming community. The prevention and detection of rural and agricultural crime continues every day to support the rural community and we are keen to work with them to address this issue.
“Criminals may see rural areas as easy targets and I want to assure them they are anything but. Operations like this enable us to gather intelligence about travelling criminals and ultimately, bring them to justice. We want to send out a very clear message to criminals that we will not tolerate such activity.”
Members of the public can help protect themselves and their rural property from crime by following some simple crime prevention steps. Advice and information is available at www.psni.police.uk/advice_information/rural-security/.
Police are urging vintage tractor enthusiasts to review their security following a number of thefts of vintage tractors recently.
Chief Inspector Roy Robinson said: “We know that these vehicles are valuable in their own right and we would ask owners to take a few simple measures to ensure their vehicles are secure. Make sure your vehicle is locked and stored away safely. Take a note of distinguishing features and photograph the tractor.”
Police are also aware of a number of thefts of trailers lately and are asking owners to ensure they take adequate crime prevention precautions.
Chief Inspector Robinson continued: “Not only have we noted a number of thefts lately but more interesting we have seen a few instances where trailers have been loaded up with goods, such as tools and quads, and driven away. Don’t make it easy for criminals, keep your property securely locked away and ensure your trailer is marked so it can be identified easily.
“If you notice anything suspicious in your area, call police on the 101 number to alert them.”