England

South East police forces produce anti-farm theft DVD

Rural crime
Image caption Nearly 2,000 tractors and other farm vehicles were stolen in 2009, police said

Five police forces are combining to tackle rural crime, urging farmers and businesses to protect their property and report suspicious incidents.

Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, and Thames Valley police have produced a 16-minute DVD with sections including estate and equipment security.

It also advises farmers and rural businesses on wildlife, animal and heritage crime and counter terrorism.

Shutting the Gate on Rural Crime also gives details of the Farm Watch scheme.

Sussex Police said that 1,975 tractors and other agriculture vehicles had been stolen in 2009 in England and Wales, with a total value of more than £10m.

"The theft of farm machinery is costly and has a major impact on farmers' livelihoods," said William White, National Farmers Union (NFU) South East regional director.

'High-value theft'

"Farmers are frequently left without the tools of their trade and it is very difficult for them to replace specialist equipment.

"Farmers must become more proactive in protecting machinery, with the average modern tractor costing more than £60,000 and sometimes as much as £120,000."

Sussex Deputy Chief Constable Giles York said rural crime ranged from "mindless damage" to organised high-value theft.

Ch Insp Julia Pope said the Farm Watch scheme, which is similar to Neighbourhood Watch but specifically for the rural community, really helped deter crime.

The DVD is being launched at Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, Surrey, on Wednesday. People from the rural community who cannot be at the event can contact police for a copy.

Neighbourhood policing teams will also be showing it at local meetings.

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