Rural crime-spree’ is cause for concern: MLA

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Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has said the ‘crime-spree’ in the wider Armagh district in recent days has been ‘hugely concerning’ for the local community.

Mr Irwin was referring to a number of break-ins which resulted in money, farm equipment and jewellery being stolen at a number of homes and farms across the area.

He said: “I have spoken at length with Mr Moore the PSNI area District Commander and I have relayed to him the seriousness of this situation and the depth of feeling amongst the rural community that these criminals can strike and get away with this thuggery.

“Superintendent Moore is fully aware of the concerns and he has assured me that the PSNI teams are doing all they can to deal with these criminals and intercept them. Mr Moore believes they are career criminals investing all their time to this illegal activity, including methods to try and avoid detection with vehicle identification.

“Mr Moore assures me the PSNI are continuing to investigate the various incidents that have occurred in recent days.

“When people contact me you can certainly appreciate the concerns they have when you consider their properties have been ransacked by these criminals, despite being securely locked and protected.

“That worries people and that is why I have expressed my concerns to the PSNI and I have asked that resources are increased to proactively police the district to intercept and deter those who seek to cause so much misery in our community.”

He continued: “There is also a role for the public to play and police are grateful for the vigilance that people have shown in reporting suspicious vehicles and activities as this helps to build up a picture and pattern in an area and assists police greatly with their inquiries. It is important that people continue to report any suspicious activity immediately to the police and take any reasonable steps to secure their valuables.”

Mr Irwin spoke of his particular concern following the theft of three trailers in a 24 hour period from the district.

PSNI sources confirmed that the trailers, two of which were Ifor Williams units, were stolen from Newtownhamilton, Armagh and Aghagallon areas and police stated they lacked any form of identifiable markings.

Mr Irwin said: “This is further proof of the criminal network that is operating in this district and it is concerning again to learn that three trailers have been stolen in a 24hour period.

“Whilst police say the trailers were not brand new and well used items they are still of significant use and value to the owners who are now without these items. They have appealed to all trailer owners to have the items marked through the PSNI trailer marking scheme and this can be arranged through my constituency office.

“It is important that trailers are stored out of sight and secured when not in use so as to make them difficult to spot and steal. However, with that said I know that those in the farming and contracting business are taking steps to secure their premises however even with this preventative action, the criminals are still making off with valuable items.”

o A 32-year-old man has been charged with a number of offences including, fraud by false representation and theft, to appear at Dungannon Magistrates Court on December 20th. As is normal procedure all charges will be reviewed by the PPS.

It is understood the charges have been brought following an investigation into the theft of vintage tractors.