POLICE in the Staffordshire Moorlands are stepping up the fight against thieves who target remote farm buildings and equipment.
Local officers covering the vast area of mainly open countryside are using decoy equipment to catch would-be criminals in hotspot areas.
Officers successfully deployed the ‘sting’ tactic when they placed equipment on a decoy quad bike and trailer in an operation in the area.
This operation resulted in three men being convicted and jailed for theft.
The crime fighting tool has also been used on other farming equipment that is often targeted by thieves, such as large batteries, cycles, cars and power tools.
The aim is to make it harder for thieves to operate in rural areas.
Chief Inspector Mark Thorley, the neighbourhood commander for the area, said: “The Moorlands is a safe and pleasant place to be, but we want to reassure the local communities this is the work we do to try and protect them and in the event of them being subjected to a crime the lengths we go to in order to bring offenders to justice.
“In decoy operations, vehicles and equipment most often targeted for theft are parked in certain areas and fitted with devices that may allow us to film or track the thieves.
“We use this tactic frequently and continue to have results which continues to bring offenders to justice and deter others from thinking the Moorlands rural communities are not protected and there for an easy target. As they are not.”
Police are also advising farmers and people living in rural areas to secure their equipment after three men were jailed recently for using a tractor as a battering ram to force their way into a barn and steal equipment.
Chief Inspector Thorley said: “I understand how busy and dynamic farming can be, but would ask farmers to keep their vehicles and equipment secure and avoid leaving machinery in isolated areas or roads where potential thieves may use it to commit further crime.”
As well as the decoy operations, neighbourhood officers carry out regular patrols of the area, which covers 222 square miles bordering large parts of Cheshire, Derbyshire and Stoke on Trent.
They have also run numerous cross border operations with colleagues from Cheshire and Derbyshire to tackle travelling criminality who often travel vast distances in the hope of avoiding detection. The work that has been undertaken over the past twelve months has seen a positive increase in intelligence being shared between the forces to pursue and target persistent offenders.
Further advice around equipment and tool security can be found here https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/article/2264/Preventing-Rural-Crime