RURAL crime – particularly the theft of high-value electronics, vehicles and equipment – is on the rise, according to Wiltshire Police.
The force is highlighting the issue at beginning of National Rural Crime Awareness week, that starts today (September 18).
Since the pandemic, rural crime in Wiltshire has been on the rise across Wiltshire and Swindon, according to ACC Mark Cooper.
“Although we have seen an increase in rural crimes over the past two years they are often under reported,” he said.
“I am asking members of the public to be alert and report any illegal activities they may be a victim of or witness in our rural communities.”
Throughout the week, the Wiltshire force is issuing updates on types of rural crime – and how to report them.
“Our teams will be out meeting farmers and members of the public and will also be engaged in pro-active enforcement activities,” ACC Cooper added.
“Our aim is to deliver safer rural communities, provide reassurance and enhance the trust and confidence in our police force during the week and for the years ahead. Rural crime is something that should concern everyone.
“To put things into perspective, rural communities cover 94% of the geographical area of Wiltshire and Swindon and 80% of the land is used for agriculture by 2,329 farms.
“However, there is only 36% of the population living in the rural areas and they are being hit almost daily by both opportunist thieves and organised crime groups.
“This situation must cease and with the help of the public our rural communities will feel empowered, recognised and confident in the Police who are working with them and with partners to make the countryside safe and welcoming for residents and visitors alike.”
Currently, there is no national definition of rural crime, it is regarded as any criminal activity that predominantly impacts on rural communities and business, such as machinery and agricultural theft, livestock theft, livestock worrying, poaching, criminal damage, arson, heritage crime and wildlife crime.
It may also be criminal activity that can take place anywhere in the force area but requires a unique approach due to specific issues associated with rural communities, such as isolation or a lack of access to services, the force said.
For more details on rural crime and how to report it, log on to https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/rc/rural-crime/.