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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

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Tynedale: Police told to step up battle against rural criminals

A CRACKDOWN on rural crime has been called for by Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman.

He has urged Northumbria Police to do more to tackle the soaring incidence of sheep and castle rustling, and the theft of quad bikes, heating oil and farm equipment from remote parts of Tynedale.

Mr Opperman said: “Rural crime often peaks at this time of year because of harvest time.

“As Northumberland is on the urban fringe we often get cases of metal theft, theft of heating oil and quad bikes.

“Rural crime is becoming more sophisticated. We are seeing thieves forming gangs and carrying out surveillance on farms and rural homes.

“Once they have been hit they are likely to be targeted again. Northumbria Police must ensure that rural crime is a priority, and must not be ignored.”

According to insurer NFU Mutual, the cost of rural crime on the UK’s rural economy is up 5.2 per cent on 2012’s figures, reaching £44.5m last year.

The NFU creates an annual rural crime report based on claims data and this year's report identified a rise in cattle rustling and the theft of high-value agricultural equipment.

The cost of thefts from farms across Northumberland and County Durham rose by 12 per cent in 2013, costing the regional economy an estimated £840,000, compared with £750,000 a year earlier.

Mr Opperman said: "We must not forget that rural communities suffer just as much as urban areas when it comes to crime.

“My advice of course would be make sure everything is as secure as possible.

“However the police must ensure that rural policing is a priority and that our communities are getting the protection they need.”