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30/05/2013 - Rural Crime

Rural crime crackdown nets Ribble Valley thieves


A POLICE crackdown on rural crime in the Ribble Valley has been hailed a success.


The six-week operation has been a joint effort between Lancashire Constabulary, the Forestry Commission, the Environment Agency and the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association, which represents anglers in the Ribble, Hodder and Calder catchment areas.

Officers carried out both highly visible and covert patrols in rural areas whilst visiting farms, rural businesses and auction marts. Over £20k suspected stolen property, including a Land Rover and a number of transit vans, were seized during the crackdown.


Over 50 roadside checks were carried out to identify travelling criminals and to deter the theft of livestock and plant equipment.


Farmers, landowners and gamekeepers were encouraged to work with the police to help identify, disrupt and deter criminals targeting the countryside through initiatives like Farm Watch and Rural Watch.


A total of eight people were arrested for offences ranging from theft of a Land Rover to the theft of eggs and going equipped to steal. A 25-year-old man has since admitted stealing the Land Rover, which was parked outside a pub in Hurst Green, Clitheroe on the evening of 4 March. The offender pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking when he appeared at Burnley Crown Court recently. 


In addition, three people have been given fines and a further three people are due to appear in court charged with going equipped to steal and a further three people are on police bail.


Despite the success of the operation, police are warning that the fight against rural crime will continue and are urging local residents in the rural areas to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to the police.


Sgt Dave Simpson who co-ordinated the operation said: “Whilst the operation has only been running for six weeks we have had some really great results and have seen rural crime reduce.”


Geographic Inspector Graham Lister added: “We used a mixture of traditional policing methods with more high tech ANPR technology which helps to track vehicles used by known rural crime offenders.


"Our aim was to arrest those who came into the Ribble Valley to commit crime or at the very least disrupt their activities by seizing the vehicles they used. I am pleased with the support and comments of our partners in this operation."


"I hope it has sent a clear message to people involved in rural crime that both police and communities will not tolerate this type of behaviour and will work together to identify those involved and bring them to justice."


"We will continue to focus our activities on those criminals who persistently target rural areas so that we can reduce even further the number of victims affected by these crimes."


A partner agency member who went out on patrol with police officers added: "We have been out on multi agency patrols with the police to support their efforts to combat rural crime and poaching and have been impressed with results of the operation."


"On one occasion we saw first-hand what powers the Police have to disrupt suspected rural crime offenders. They stopped one target of the operation and they were able to search and seize his vehicle, as the suspect did not have any vehicle insurance."


Anyone with information or concerns about rural crime can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


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Martin James Fishing
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