Criminals are five times more likely to strike farms on Thursdays, according to detailed statistics which have helped one police unit cut rural crime by more than 30%.

The North Wales Police’s Rural Crime Team was set up 12 months ago to step up the fight against crime using undercover operations, based on more detailed intelligence gathering.

The unit quickly established that five times more thefts and burglaries were being committed on Thursdays than on Tuesdays which saw the lowest weekly criminal activity.

See also: Read more news on rural crime

Head of the rural crime unit Sergeant Rob Taylor told Farmers Weekly: “We quickly established a link between these crimes and farming events such as livestock markets and shows. Follow up calls revealed that farmers had gone away for the day, leaving their farms unattended.

“The criminals checked the farming calendar and had been waiting and watching farms, making their move when the farmer left.”

The unit has used the intelligence to turn the tables on the perpetrators and achieved spectacular results.

“We have used the information to hammer home the message of the danger of not securing property and raising general awareness that the criminals are active in the area,” said Sgt Taylor.

Farm thefts fell from a peak of 65 in October 2013 to 28 in July this summer.

Overall rural incidents, which peaked at 116 in October 2013, had fallen to a monthly total of 72 by January in North Wales. The downward trend in crime has continued while prosecutions have increased.

“The criminals checked the farming calendar and had been waiting and watching farms, making their move when the farmer left.”
Sergeant Rob Taylor, North Wales Police

But it’s not just the advice and guidance to property owners that is helping the police to hit back. The intelligence is backed by an uncompromising approach, which has seen thieves tracked down hundreds of miles away across the Welsh border.

“We are taking a hard line. Our message to criminals is, if you come on to our patch we are going to hunt you down and we are going to catch you,” said Sgt Taylor.

“We are tactically operational and the information gathering is linked to the full range of investigations, including undercover operations against organised gangs who target our area,” he said.

“The unit follows up all rural crimes that are reported. We don’t just wait to hear about it we are actively scouring information sources to learn about the crimes and work in partnership with Natural Resources Wales, the farming unions, the RSPB and RSPCA.”

He also urged farmers to use Twitter and other social media to contact the unit, except for emergencies.

“We want to hear about crimes so please contact the unit through our Twitter account at @NWPRuralCrime.”

North Wales Police’s Rural Crime Team officers can be contacted via the North Wales Police system by dialling 101 or by e-mailing direct to the team ruralcrimeteam@north-wales.police.uk.

The unit’s success has been achieved against a backdrop of rising crime elsewhere in the UK with NFU Mutual figures showing livestock thefts across the UK were up 25%.

Tractor thefts have cost more than £30m in the past four years at a rate of six a day while the cost of crime to the rural economy totalled £44.5m in 2013 – up 5.2% on 2012 figures.

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