Rutland farmers targetted by thieves despite police success

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FARMERS are being still being targeted by criminals, despite successes by police in tackling the problem.

Although £500,000 worth of farm equipment has been found and returned to its owners in the area after it was stolen last year, rural crime is still an issue, a meeting of Leicestershire Police Authority.

About 60 people from Rutland attended the meeting at Rutland County Council and raised rural issues such as poaching and metal theft.

The event was organised by the authority so people could raise issues and have a say on policing.

Leicestershire police Chief Constable Simon Cole, police authority chairman Barrie Roper, authority chief executive and treasurer Paul Stock and Rutland police commander Johnny Monks were there to answer questions and listen to concerns.

Rural crime has been a concern that has been tackled extensively in the county over the last 18 months, but it is still an issue for residents.

Percy Gilman, who farms in Tixover, was at the meeting.

He said: “Farm crime seems to come in three sections; tractor theft, stock theft and metal theft.

“Stock theft is difficult because we don’t count our livestock everyday so don’t always notice when are numbers are down.

“But metal thefts are noticeable, especially when our gates to our fields are being stolen. A couple of weeks ago I had 25 batteries stolen from my yard.

“We copied the numberplate of the vehicle down but by the time the police followed it up it had been moved onto another vehicle.”

Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “There is value in the metal market and we think of it as scrap, but I understand that there are things like gates being stolen which do have an impact on the people they’re stolen from.

“It’s your business that it’s affecting.”

Villagers in Horninghold expressed their concerns about lead thefts from churches and asked whether the police would be willing to help them to replace the lead that they had replaced through church funds.

Miles Noble from Pickworth asked what was being done to stop poachers in the area.

Rutland police commander Johnny Monks said: “I am aware of the case at Pickworth and we arrested and charged five Yorkshire men for poaching.

“In Rutland we have 200 farms and tackling rural crime is one of my top priorities.”

Young people from the county were also represented at the meeting by Yasmin Proctor-Kent from Exton on behalf of the Rutland Youth Council.

Miss Proctor-Kent asked whether the police were working to educate young people about how their behaviour might be perceived as anti-social, even though they do not intend it to.

Mr Cole said: “Young people are our key market. They make up most of our victims and most of our offenders.”

After the meeting, Mr Roper, who is Rutland County Council ward member for Ketton, said: “It has been an extremely constructive evening from the police authority’s point of getting the message across and getting feedback from the public.

“I am sure people have gone away better informed with a better understanding of local policing.”