Cumbria Police's Rural Crime Unit works with farmers to combat theft of equipment and livestock

Our reporter Kieran Macfadzean went along to find out what police in Cumbria are doing to tackle the problem.

Police in Cumbria are working with farmers to help them combat rural crime as isolated communities continue to be victims of theft.

During National Rural Crime Week (18-24 September), police stopped over 120 vehicles in efforts to prevent crime from occurring in rural communities.

They also launched a dedicated Rural Crime Unit, visiting auctions across the county to liaise with farmers.

Isolated communities and businesses have long been victims of crime in Cumbria. According to police, yesterday officers arrested a man on suspicion of the theft of a £2000 quad bike in Kendal in September.

On Tuesday, the constabulary reported that several metal gates had been stolen from fields in the Carlisle area during the night.

Jim Campbell, who runs a farm in North Cumbria, recently had his quad bike stolen in the early hours of the morning. Police located the vehicle the next day near the farm and returned it to Mr Campbell. It had been stashed close to the property.

Officers say criminals often hide stolen vehicles, such as quad bikes, close to the victim’s property to collect later.

This allows them to check to see if the vehicle has a tracker on. If this is the case, the farmer is alerted as to the vehicles location and the criminals could be identified if they stole the item straight away.

Mr Campbell said: "I don't know a farmer that hasn't been a victim of rural crime in some form so it's encouraging to see the rural crime unit being set up. It confirms to us that rural crime is being taken seriously by the police.

“We were lucky to get our quad bike back so quickly which was largely due to the work done by the police to locate it."

This week, Cumbria's Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (DPFCC) Mike Johnson visited Mr Campbell's farm to see the Rural Crime Team advise on ways to defend farm equipment from thieves.

They provided a SelectaDNA kit which can be used to mark property with an invisible fluid that stays on thieves clothes for around 15 years. The fluid is filled with microdots no bigger than a full stop but which have a code printed on them unique to each farm that has a kit.

If a criminal is arrested and scanned with a UV light, the fluid can be seen and the code identified.

DPFCC Mike Johnson, said: “We understand that many farmers and businesses in the county rely on agricultural equipment and livestock. Criminals stealing and abusing these integral parts of these businesses do affect the livelihoods of residents and place emotional, mental, and financial stress on them.

“We need rural residents to be our eyes and ears in their community as they know their area better than anyone so if you do spot anything suspicious, please report it."

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