Police bid to stop thieves in their tracks

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POLICE in Northumberland are stepping up their efforts to stop countryside thieves in their tracks.

Operation Combine has been introduced following a number of crimes at farms and rural communities across the county in the last two months.

Since the beginning of June, thieves have committed a number of offences stealing property in excess of £170,000, including quad bikes, cars and vans, tools and farming equipment.

However, a number of arrests have already been made and property including vehicles, quad bikes and tools have been recovered in the first few weeks of the operation.

Patrols are being carried out day and night on the main and minor roads throughout the North and West of the county, with officers stopping vehicles, checking driver details and ensuring they are in the area for legitimate reasons.

Officers are also visiting farms on a regular basis.

Northumberland Superintendent Frank Gallop said: “Operation Combine is up and running in Northumberland now and we have already achieved success. So far officers have visited over 700 farms and spoken to those living in our rural areas. They are giving crime prevention advice on securing vehicles and buildings and the types of vehicles and individuals to be aware of.

“We’ve had an excellent response from residents, farmers and landowners. Their support has led directly to arrests and the recovery of property.”

More than 1,500 farmers, landowners and rural residents are signed up to the Northumberland Farmwatch system.

This allows officers to quickly pass on information and messages to rural communities via email, phone call and text. It also enables rural communities to alert the police to suspicious activity, who can then respond quickly to reports and alert those signed up to be on their guard.

To report any suspicious behaviour, contact Northumbria Police on 03456 043043, ext 69191.

To sign up to the Farmwatch scheme, visit www.northumbria.police.uk and click on the Alnwick sector.