Cops turn up heat on rural crime

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Local farmers will be leafleted with crime prevention information in a bid to stem the rising tide of rural crime in the area.

The upsurge in countryside criminals was once again highlighted at Tuesday night’s Teviot and Liddesdale Area Forum in the Lesser Town Hall. And Police Scotland in conjunction with the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and Crimestoppers have put together an information leaflet which will be delivered to every farm in the area.

This follows a spate of rural thefts which included an incident at Howahill Farm near Bonchester which resulted in the theft of a quad bike and tools, in mid December, a cattle lorry loaded with a quad bike was found abandoned on the Bonchester to Hawick road, the lorry’s ignition had been tampered with and both had been stolen from a secure yard near Kirkton.

Also in December a secure farm shed was broken into in the Newcastleton area which resulted in the theft of three quad bikes with a value of £12,000.

A Police Scotland report read out by Area Forum chairman George Turnbull at Tuesday’s meeting stated: “Police, NFU and Crimestoppers have put a new information leaflet together. This will be delivered to every farm in the Scottish Borders over the next few months. This covers a range of issues relating to rural theft and should assist in preventing crime affecting these communities.

And the report, compiled by Inspector Carol Wood, stated further: “Police Scotland will also be using the Scottish Borders Council SB Alert scheme to pass on information and appeals from now on. Anyone in the Borders can sign up for this at www.sbalert.co.uk and we would encourage everyone to do so.”

But Councillor Watson McAteer is calling on Police Scotland to ensure that local farmers are not seen as easy targets by thieves.

Speaking to the Hawick News, Mr McAteer said: “‘The main issue facing police in a rural area is the effect of travelling criminals and the difficulty in obtaining effective intelligence. Once these people spot a weaknesses they will target an area to fully exploit it. It is essential that the police work closely with the community to restrict opportunities.”