Police in Wiltshire are offering to stop-check tractors being driven at night in a bid to target tackle farm theft in the county.
The Wiltshire Rural Crime Partnership is giving away “Police Stop Me” stickers for farmers and contractors to display on tractors and other agricultural vehicles.
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The idea is that “Police STOP ME between 20:00-05:00” stickers are now available for rural communities to apply to their agricultural vehicles, trailers and horse boxes etc.
If machinery displaying a sticker is seen on the roads between 8pm and 5am, police officers stop-check the vehicle to ensure it is being used by the rightful owner.
A similar initiative has been in operation with cash-in-transit vans for many years, and has proven to successfully reduce attacks on vehicles from the security trade.
Rural crime officer Marc Jackson said: “This initiative is currently being used by other police forces around the UK and is a small but effective tool in the fight against rural crime.
“Anything we can do to work with our communities to help disrupt and prevent rural crime is something we are keen to promote.
“Stickers won’t necessarily stop a theft, but they do raise awareness to other members of the public and police officers in regards to farm machinery thefts.
“This can include quad bikes, ATVs, 4×4 vehicles and as well as vintage tractors.”
PC Jackson said police were also asking farmers, smallholders and horse owners to ensure that their agricultural vehicles are adequately protected and stored securely.
“We often find that vehicles are stolen while being used, with the keys left in the vehicle when the owner is checking livestock or working around the farm yard.”
NFU Wiltshire representative Andi Witcombe said: “Rural crime is one of the most pressing, impactful and devastating issues farmers are dealing with at the moment.
“We have seen some great examples around the country of police forces getting on the front foot with rural policing, and the NFU in Wiltshire welcomes the Police Stop Me initiative.
More than two-thirds of farmers have been victims of crime in the past 12 months.
“Appropriate action needs to be taken to ensure farmers can do what they do best – producing safe, traceable and affordable food for the nation.”