Police urge vigilance on rural Garstang crime

RURAL residents are being urged to report suspicious activity near their homes or land in a bid to fight crime.

Thefts of scrap metal, machinery, farming equipment and other items rose slightly in the rural parts of north Lancashire, including in the Garstang area, a the start of the year.

And there have also been a number of high-value thefts last month including a £3,500 one-and-a-half-ton mobile sheep handling system stolne from a farmer’s field and 70 sheep, worth £1,000, stolen from land at a Garstang farm between February 5–7.

Officers have stepped up high-visibility patrols in rural areas during the evening and carried out a covert operation which saw a number of people arrested in connection with the theft of catalytic converters, wagon batteries and scrap metal. Police are continuing to carry out visits to scrap metal dealers in order to disrupt the sale of stolen materials.

Residents are now being asked to join in the fight against crime by ensuring they take the necessary measures to protect their property and pass on information to police if they see anything suspicious.

Chief Insp Ian Dawson said: “With the continual rise in scrap metal prices thieves are targeting homes and businesses in rural areas as they believe they are less likely to be seen. Once there, if they see something else that may be of value then it is an extra temptation.

“However, we know that members of our rural communities often have close ties with each other and therefore excellent communication networks. This is really important when it comes to prevent crime and catching those who are committing it.”

He added: “If someone sees something suspicious – or indeed a crime being committed – it is important that they tell us so that we can crack down on the type of crime which is currently having a significant financial impact on those who are falling prey to it.”

FarmWatch schemes currently operate in the Over Wyre and the Lune Valley area. Farmers, land owners and rural residents sign up to the scheme and then receive updates via their mobiles relating to recent crime in the area and crime prevention tips so that they can avoid falling victim to something similar. Members are also encouraged to report suspicious activity to police so that others can be quickly alerted.

Chief Insp Dawson said: “New members are always welcome to the schemes, which has proven to be a quick way to keep residents in more isolated areas up-to-date with important information about crimes and crime prevention.

“We would also urge non-members to contact us immediately if they have important information so that quick action can be taken.”

Contact police with information on 0845 1 25 35 45. In an emergency always dial 999.