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  1. Published on: 26/05/2021 06:05 AMReported by: rogerblaxall
    A rural task force dealing with the rising problem of farm related crime is hoping for a good harvest of criminals.

    Thieves have been targeting local farms and stealing GPS guidance systems on a regular basis, costing farmers thousands of pounds; not only is the technology expensive to replace, but the units also store vital farm data and are essential for modern day tractors and combines to work effectively.

    When thieves targeted the Molyneux Kale Company on Asmall Lane recently, they also took a tractor's engine management system, meaning it could no longer be driven, and Chris Molyneux, who owns the company, had to rent another at a cost of £1,000 a week.

    Welcoming the force's move, the National Farmers’ Union at Skem. says tackling GPS theft needs to be one of the new 20 officers priorities.

    County Chair Lisa Edwards who farms at Gore House Farm, Lydiate, has also been a victim of this crime; in August 2020 a GPS system was stolen off the top of a combine locked away in a shed.

    She’s now advising fellow farmers to tag and mark all of their equipment, make themselves known to the new rural task force and lock everything away at night – although sadly this does not always deter the thieves.

    Lisa said: “We didn’t dare take the dome off the top of the combine late at night in the dark due to health and safety concerns.

    “It’s very high and you’d need a ladder. That didn't stop the thieves though, and our combine was out of action for two days and cost £8,500 to replace.

    “I’d urge all farmers to lock everything away and in the first instance ask the new rural task force for one of their extremely helpful advice sheets.

    “We also move equipment around the farm so the thieves can’t accurately predict where it will be.”

    CI Chris Hardy, who's leading the team said “We have made significant investment to create the bespoke teams who'll work in dedicated shift patterns. Officers will engage with the community to find out what the issues are and then deal with them.”

    PC Sean Dalby added: “Being part of this dedicated team means I’ll no longer be pulled away from rural issues to deal with domestics and shop lifting.

    “All of my time can now be spent exclusively tackling rural crime.

    “We have real issues with scrambler bikes and fly tipping. As a lover of the countryside who is never happier than when I’m with my dogs in the middle of nowhere, these are crimes which really get under my skin.

    “I’ll do all I can to stop them.”
     

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