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Members of the rural community are being encouraged to mark their possessions and report any suspicious activity after officers from Northamptonshire Police have seen an increase in thefts across the county.
Since November 1, officers from the Force’s Rural Crime Team have received more than 40 reports which has included the theft of 12 caravans, 12 trailers, nine plant machinery/agriculture tractors and eight quad bikes.
As a result of the owners’ fitting tracker devices to their valuables, a small number of items (four caravans, two trailers, two tractors and one quad bike) have been recovered, and officers are urging others to take similar preventative measures.
Rural Crime Officer, PC Chloe Gillies said: “Agricultural equipment and vehicles are often both vital to the running of a business as well as a huge investment, and we’re doing all we can to help our rural community to protect themselves.
“Most of the items we recover are those with a tracking device attached, and we would therefore urge owners to consider fitting these to their vehicles in addition to other crime prevention options such as alarms.
“However, there are other simple, key prevention measures owners can take, such as clearly and permanently marking possessions, ideally with their surname and postcode. This makes them less attractive to criminals as well as easier to return, if recovered.
“Keeping a detailed, up-to-date list of all your equipment is also really important, so for a handling system this would include noting the brand and component parts, such as number of hurdles, sizes, whether it includes guillotine gates, turnover crates, and so on.
“Or taking detailed photos of vehicles and making a note of identifying features such as a damaged indicator, which could help with the recovery of their property, and keeping all related paperwork together and secure.
“This should include a list of VRNs, chassis and registration plate numbers, which can be added to the Police National Computer and a stolen marker put against it, so if recovered, can be linked back quickly to the owner.”
With stolen equipment usually moved out of the county quickly, the Rural Crime Team work closely with colleagues from neighbouring forces to help recover stolen property and reunite it with the rightful owners.
PC Gillies added: “We work very closely with our neighbouring forces, both sharing information and intelligence, to locate and recover property which has been stolen from Northamptonshire or across the county borders.
“A great example of this was the theft of a Ifor Williams livestock trailer from Upper Boddington, overnight on January 4. Although it didn’t have a tracker device fitted, we shared its details with our colleagues in Warwickshire.
“Officers from the Rural Crime Team went straight out to check known haunts and within an hour they had located a livestock trailer, with a serial number which matched that of our stolen trailer. The owner was over the moon to get it back!”
Tips for protecting agricultural equipment and vehicles
• Clearly mark equipment and vehicles with your postcode and surname
• Don’t store items in isolated or insecure locations
• Make a list of all your equipment, including product name, any serial numbers, type and size of component parts, any security features or distinctive marks. Take photos too if you can
• At auctions, report any suspicious activity to police – include descriptions and registrations
• If you suspect any lots could be stolen, immediately inform the auctioneer and the police
• Keep all vehicle paperwork together and secure – not with the vehicle
• Log VRNs and chassis numbers, make written descriptions and take photos
• Consider using crime prevention products to protect your premises and items
For more advice, visit https://www.northants.police.uk/cp/crime-prevention/
All reports of suspicious vehicles or activity should call police on 101, or online at www.northants.police.uk/reportonline. Always call 999 if a crime is in progress.