Clampdown on ‘country crooks’ who target Ribble Valley

JOINING FORCES: Coun. Rosie Elms and Community Beat Manager Jo Dolan
JOINING FORCES: Coun. Rosie Elms and Community Beat Manager Jo Dolan

“GET out and stay out” is the message to travelling criminals who pilfer from the Ribble Valley countryside.

Ribble Valley Community Safety Partnership has launched a crackdown on criminals who come into the borough from surrounding towns and cities to steal livestock, fuel, scrap metal, agricultural machinery, vehicles and anything else of value.

The partnership is backing Farm Watch and Smartwater – two schemes aimed at both deterring and catching travelling criminals. As part of the initiative, signs with the message “Thieves Beware” will be placed where schemes are in operation.

Farm Watch allows the police to share information with farmers and hard-to-reach rural businesses. It alerts farmers to suspicious behaviour or recent crimes in their area via e-mail or telephone, so they can take precautions to keep their land and property safe.

Farmers are also encouraged to tell the police of any sightings of suspicious vehicles, poachers or unusual activity, which is then passed on to other Farm Watch members.

Ribble Valley councillor Rosie Elms, who represents the Bowland, Newton and Slaidburn ward, said: “Farm Watch is forging closer working links between farmers, the police and community.

“Although Ribble Valley is one of safest places in the UK, it is vital we work together to tackle rural crime and send a clear message to travelling criminals that they will get short shrift in our borough.”

Dozens of farmers have also signed up to the Smartwater scheme, whereby their property is marked with an invisible liquid which when placed under ultraviolet light reveals the rightful owner. Anyone taken into custody is routinely screened to check whether they have come into contact with Smartwater.

Community beat manager Jo Dolan, of Clitheroe Police, added: “Due to the remote locations of many rural properties, thieves believe there is less chance they will be seen as they carry out criminal activity, but with the help of the community we aim to ensure this is not the case.

“Travelling criminals will be getting the message loud and clear we are on their case and they are better keeping away from Ribble Valley.”

Information about Farm Watch is available from PC Tony Walsh or PC Jo Dolan on 01200 458734 and about Smartwater on 0870 242 8899.