New crime-busting force to target farm theft

Lancashire Police force has begun a high-profile bid to combat crime in the countryside.

Operation Firecrest launched on Monday (19 September) will employ extra patrols,target suspected offenders and provide a police presence at auction marts and other key locations.

The offensive will be backed up by roadside vehicle checks and anti-poaching patrols.

Lancashire police will be supported by other agencies as roadside checks target travelling criminals in a determined bid to deter the theft of livestock and plant equipment.

Farmers, landowners and gamekeepers are being asked to work collectively with the police to help identify, disrupt and deter criminals targeting the Lancashire countryside, through initiatives such as Farm Watch and Rural Watch.

Supt Richard Spedding from Lancashire Police said seven cases of rural crime were reported in Lancashire every day.
 
“The most widespread offences in our rural communities include fuel and scrap metal as well as the theft of livestock, agricultural machinery and poaching.

“But we’re appealing to local communities to let us know what’s happening and report anything suspicious. We want people to have the confidence to ring us knowing that we will respond and investigate.”
 
Supt Spedding said that as well as the theft of equipment and machinery, farmers were being urged to check the security surrounding their winter supplies of heating and fuel oil.
 
“And as the value of meat increases we’re seeing more widespread poaching of deer and sheep. We’ve also had the case of a sheep being killed and then butchered and its entrails being thrown into a ditch by the roadside.
 
Beef and sheep farmer Ally Weare from Gisburn, near Clitheroe has installed security cameras at the entrance to the farm as part of his efforts to deter poachers.
 
“We’ve had considerable damage caused by deer poachers who even broke a house window and slashed the tyre of a car in the yard. I know of another farmer who has had deer poachers on his land and woke to find a lamb at his front door with its throat cut.
 
“This extra high police presence is essential to reassure farmers and to deterthieves.”
 
Anyone wishing to discuss concerns about rural crime or report suspicious activity should contact local police on 0845 1 25 35 45.

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