Shropshire Star

Police seizures of stolen farm equipment send 'clear message to criminals'

Leading figures in the Shropshire farming community hope news that police have seized stolen farm equipment worth £500,000 will send a 'clear message' to criminals targeting their land.

Rural crime has been a big problem in Shropshire

West Mercia Police this week reported it had enjoyed positive results on farm thefts happening across the county, which included two tractors worth a combined total of £230,000 being recovered by two police officers.

Since then a further two tractors, a pick-up truck, a JCB digger and a bowser containing 2,000 litres of fuel have been recovered and returned to their owners.

Graham Price, NFU Shropshire chairman who farms at Ludlow, said: “This is very welcome news as farm crime remains a huge issue for farmers up and down Shropshire despite some strong work from the police to deter and prosecute thieves.

“Hopefully this excellent result will send a clear message.

“The NFU has had real success in strengthening legislation but more work is needed to stop offenders and to help officers with intelligence gathering – so reporting incidents and suspicious behaviour remains key.

“We now need to see farmers, the police and policymakers continuing to work together on a local and national level to build a structure that will prevent rural crime, underpinned by solid legislation.”

And Ed Garratt, Shropshire NFU county adviser, added: “This was a really good result and we are pleased to see kit returned to county farms so our members can get on with the business of producing high quality food for us all.

“We continue to see machinery, vehicle, fuel and livestock thefts but it is also important to remember that the nature of rural crime is changing, especially as more criminals have access to new technologies.

“With more business transactions happening online, we also need to adapt and it’s great to see some police forces developing more robust cybercrime teams. We will continue to work with West Mercia Police to help safeguard rural farms and businesses going forward.”