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Online fight against Shropshire rural thefts

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Animals, tractors, motorbikes and even a bronze crocodile are among the items being claimed through a website launched to lead the fight against rural thefts in Shropshire.

Animals, tractors, motorbikes and even a bronze crocodile are among the items being claimed through a website launched to lead the fight against rural thefts in Shropshire.

More than £800,000 worth of items were stolen in the county last year, as part of a rapid surge in thefts from properties and farms in the countryside. Now there is a place where photos of stolen items can be posted.

Farmer Angela Jefferson, from Lydbury North, was struck by thieves an astonishing eight times as the problem escalated, leading her to set up www.itsbeennicked.co.uk along with friend Carol Smith.

It allows victims of rural crime to list the items which have been stolen, so anyone who is offered goods can pinpoint them as stolen by looking on the online portal.

Hundreds of victims have posted photos and descriptions on missing items ranging from gun dogs to parrots to a bronze crocodile.

Mrs Smith said: "We decided to launch the website after Angela was the victim of thieves eight times. The website is growing steadily with lots of items now listed. If you can think of it it's been on the site.

"We have had several tractors, a Harley Davidson motorbike, animals and lots of other things as well.

"There have been some good success stories. One retired policeman contacted a person who had listed a stolen item on the website, he started his own investigation which led to an arrest."

The huge array of items listed on the website have been stolen from all over the UK, and also includes ponies, lorries, cars, church silverware, a £10,000 church bell, and £100,000 worth of antiques from a rural dealership.

In 2010, £49.7million worth of goods were stolen nationally from rural areas, with £9.7m of these coming from the West Midlands. The spike in thefts caused West Mercia Police to launch Operation Ignite which has led to more than 100 arrests in a year.

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