POLICE are urging Borders farmers to learn more about how to protect themselves and their property from thieves.
Safer Communities Team Inspector John Scott hopes local producers will attend a crime prevention event aimed at farmers in Linlithgow at the end of the month.
He said: “We probably do well in preventing farm thefts in the Borders but it’s important we remain vigilant.”
His comments come just weeks after sheep rustlers raided South Fallaknowe Farm near Coldingham in Berwickshire, making off with 10 sheep and 43 lambs over a 21-day period.
More than 20 quad bikes were stolen in the region over the winter.
“There has been theft of sheep every year, in particular over the last 10 years. That’s something that doesn’t seem to be going away because the price for lamb is still good,” said Inspector Scott.
More recently, metal on farms has been targeted.
“The commodity prices of metal make it really worthwhile to steal any sort of metal, “ said Inspector Scott.
He cautioned farmers: “If somebody buys scrap metal from you they should be registered with licences – that way they will have been through police checks. If they don’t, they could be anybody” – and they come back later or send others to steal.
He advised: “It’s about challenging individuals coming on to your farm – if you don’t know them, ask who they are, what their purpose is and make your farm safe, what we call target hardening, so it’s difficult for somebody to steal from you
“If you are not sure of somebody then don’t be scared to phone the police, we would always encourage that.”
He urged farmers to take down registration numbers of suspicious vehicles or key them into mobiles and take photographs.
“It’s these simple things that farmers can do that will help,” he said.
Companies and advisors at the NFU Scotland-organised event at Balderston Farm, Linlithgow on Thursday, June 28, will include identification firm Datatag supplying the CESAR scheme which was designed by police officers with the building and agricultural industries to provide police on the street with a simple way to identify machinery and equipment.
There will be information about Tracker, the only stolen vehicle recovery system operated by all police forces across the UK, and CCTV and alarm systems information as well as rural crime police officers advising on all aspects of crime in the country.
Inspector Scott said: “It’s hard to measure prevention and how much you save and stop. Of course we pursue criminals, but it’s a sight better when they turn up for a night’s stealing and can’t get anything. You can’t really explain how good it is for a farmer not to have to go to the Honda dealership to ask for a loan of a quad bike. They can’t do without them, they’re the modern horses.”
The information afternoon runs from noon to 4pm. Anyone interested should ring NFU Scotland on 0131 472 4000.