Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting DEVON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Police tackle rural crime in Barnstaple area
9:12am Tuesday 2nd October 2012 in News
Police in Barnstaple are tackling rural crime with a security marking initiative designed to help protect isolated properties from burglars.
Police community support officer Hannah Denton is visiting farms and isolated rural properties to offer advice about crime prevention and personally security mark valuable equipment and machinery.
She began the initiative to stem the rise in thefts and burglaries in the countryside, with burglars targeting rural properties at night across Bishops Tawton, Landkey, Swimbridge and Whiddon Valley.
Offenders have mostly been targeting power tools such as grinders and chainsaws, horse tack and saddles, valuable equipment such as lawnmowers and even electric fencing and radios.
In some cases, offenders have used bolt croppers to break into trailers to steal equipment while others have simply taken vehicles from farms loaded with stolen equipment.
As part of the initiative Hannah, who is based at Barnstaple, is calling on victims of rural crime to provide reassurance and advice, plus identifying other vulnerable properties as a preventative measure.
As well as providing advice on how to secure valuable equipment, she is personally security etching machinery and other property.
The items are then registered on the national security database www.immobilise.com that enables police to easily identify any stolen property if it is recovered.
Hannah said: “Some of these items of machinery and equipment are worth hundreds and thousands of pounds and are vital to working life in farms, stables and rural businesses. People can ill afford to lose them, particularly in this tough economy, and such burglaries cause huge heartache and uncertainty.
“There are some very simple measures that people in farms and isolated properties can take to reduce the risk of being burgled. I am out visiting people across the community and have marked a large amount of property so far. I am very happy to visit anyone who would like advice on keeping their property safe and secure.”
Isolated properties, stables, farm buildings, machinery, trailers and livestock are all vulnerable to criminals, and police advice people to take a few simple steps to keep them safe and secure:
• Keep buildings and machinery locked.
• Store valuable equipment in a secure building behind a strong locked door, or use a metal cage and keep it locked when unattended.
• Lock doors to barns and outbuildings at all times.
• Windows can be an open invitation to thieves – protect them with metal bars or grilles.
• Keep a secure perimeter around fields and outbuildings to deter thieves from targeting animals such as sheep and horses.
• Check fences and hedges bordering rural properties to identity weak spots that could provide unnoticed access to criminals or vehicles, and secure where necessary.
• Consider restricting access to property to prevent unwelcome vehicles.
• Install security lighting around yards, outbuildings and isolated locations. Consider installing perimeter alarms.
• Lock or immobilise vehicles and equipment when not in use.
• Remove keys from cars, tractors and other vehicles when unattended.
• Avoid leaving machinery in isolated locations or fields - particularly near roads - where they can be removed without attracting attention.
• Visibly mark machinery and tools and register on www.immobilise.com.
• Keep tools locked away when not in use - as well as being stolen, a burglar can use them to access secured property.
Anyone who would like a visit from PCSO Denton can contact her at Barnstaple police station by telephoning 101.
For more information visit the crime prevention pages at www.devon-cornwall.police.uk