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June 5, 2013 / C H Thompson

Rural crime

Rural crimes are those particular (or easier to commit in these areas) to the countryside. The extent of rural crime is significant enough for the NFU insurance company to produce their statistics on rural crime rates.

Therefore crimes such as sheep rustling; removal of lead from churches; fly-tipping also there’s poaching, vehicle thefts, illegal raves, vandalism and wildlife crime are ‘easy’ to commit in rural areas as explained in the following clip.

Surrey Police list the following areas as being particularly vulnerable to rural crimes with the accompanying prevention advice:

  1. Diesel theft – store diesel in a secure fuel tank within a spill containment bund and use good quality locks. Avoid installing a storage tank in an isolated area or outlying building. Consider using a mobile bowser kept in a secure place when not in use. Use ‘diesel dye’, making your diesel traceable and less attractive to thieves.
  2. Scrap metal theft – dispose of scrap metal regularly and legitimately thus making your premises less vulnerable to metal theft. If approached by opportunistic dealers tell them you have a contract with a legitimate scrap dealer and ask them to leave.
  3. Tack security – secure tack room windows on the inside with solid iron bars (not tubular steel). Secure all doors with good quality locks. Use bolts (not screws) on the hinges. Property mark tack. Display warning signage to deter thieves. Padlock gates with substantial padlocks and heavy duty chains. Reverse top hinges on gates to prevent lifting. Install security lights and an intruder alarm.
  4. Firearms security -it is an offence to infringe the strict regulations for safe storage and use of firearms. For further advice, please contact your local Police Firearms’ Licensing department.
  5. Chemical storage -store fertilisers in a dedicated locked building or compound. Do not leave them on public view. Do not sell fertiliser unless you know the potential purchaser to be a bona fide user. Record all deliveries and usage and carry out regular stock taking. Record manufacturers’ code numbers and detonation resistance test certificates – you may be required to present them. Always report a stock discrepancy or loss immediately. The Health & Safety Executive http://www.hse.gov.ukLink to an external website  can provide further advice on storage/transportation of fertilisers, particularly ammonium nitrate.
  6. Endangered species – crimes against protected species include killing or taking them from the wild, taxidermy offences, and taking eggs or skins for personal collections or trade. Other possible offences include destroying nests and breeding sites, bat roosts and other protected habitats. Contact the police on 101, Natural England on 0845 600 3078or your local Wildlife Trust (www.wildlifetrusts.orgLink to an external website) if you think an offence has been or is about to be committed.
  7. Persecution of wildlife species – certain species such as badgers and deer are protected by legislation making it an offence to cause them unnecessary suffering by certain acts. A person participating alone or with others in pursuing a wild mammal with a dog (whether or not in their direct control) is committing an offence under the Hunting Act 2004. It is an offence to hunt with a dog unless conforming to closely defined exemptions. If you suspect a hunter(s) of pursuing a live animal, report it to the police. Do not approach participants.
  8. Hare coursing is illegal -hare coursing usually occurs after harvest time, (late-August/early-September) when large tracts of land are crop-less. An event will most likely take place at dawn or dusk. An obvious sign is a group of vehicles parked in a rural area, perhaps by a farmland gateway, on a grass verge, track or bridle path. There will usually be estate cars, four-wheel drives or vans containing evidence of dogs. Coursers often travel in convoy with minders’ vans front and rear. If you witness hare coursing, contact the police immediately. Do not approach participants.
  9. Poaching– poaching (hunting or fishing) is illegal if: the game or fish is not in season; the perpetrator does not hold a license; the hunter used an illegal weapon for a particular animal; the animal or plant is on restricted land; the right to hunt a particular animal is claimed by someone else; the means used are illegal (e.g. baiting); or the animal or fish is protected by law or is an endangered species.
  10. Equestrian crime – remember: a horse passport is a legal requirement. Freeze-mark or microchip horse(s) for visible and permanent identification purposes. Photograph horses in colour, winter and summer, from both sides, head on and tail on. Include close-ups of ‘chestnuts’, distinctive marking or scarring. Use easily understandable terminology when reporting a horse related incident. For information about the Surrey Police saddle marking scheme, contact your Safer Neighbourhood Team.
  11. Animal issues – tell the RSPCA (0300 1234 999) immediately about suspected mistreatment of a wild or domestic animal. Report any suspicious activity involving livestock to the police. If livestock is making more noise than usual – check if anyone is in the field or has disturbed the animals. Use ear-tags, horn brands, freeze marking or tattooing to make animals easily identifiable.
  12. Heritage Crime – any theft, criminal damage or unauthorised work on a scheduled monument should be reported to English Heritage on 0870 333 1181.
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