Community united in bid to beat agricultural crime

police are appealing to agricultural land-owners in Carrick to sign up to their Rural Watch scheme after an increase in thefts of quad bikes and red diesel in the area.

The scheme, which already has 213 members, has proven to be quite successful and has improved communication lines with police and the rural community.

According to constable Graeme Gordon, who started and runs Rural Watch, the scheme is all about improving communication.

He told the Gazette: “I’m merely the middle man in this. Farmers will email me details of any suspicious activity or vehicles and I will then circulate that to the other members. I will also send out details of crimes we’ve recorded to let members know what is happening throughout the area. We just email each other and once a month I will send an update of what and who to watch out for.”

And it has proven to be successful. One farmer in the South Ayrshire area had contacted Graeme with the number plate of a van he was unsure of and it was soon discovered that the van was wanted in relation to a serious crime in London.

Pc Gordon has become increasingly alarmed by the rise in thefts from agricultural land in Carrick. The thefts of quad bikes and red diesel in the area has increased over the last few months. PC Gordon continued: “Only a short while ago, my colleague and I discovered 11 five-gallon barrels hidden in a hedge, which we believe were there to be picked up and used to steal red diesel with.”

Police believe organised gangs are now trying to make money by selling stolen red diesel to motorists crippled by rising fuel prices and now traffic police will be stopping vehicles and checking car owners’ fuel tanks to see if the are running on red diesel in a bid to crackdown on the illegal movement. “The scheme is for the members of rural watch. They need to change with the times to avoid problems,” said Pc Gordon. “Diligence and vigilance will improve your awareness. Some do need to change their attitude towards locking their doors, for example. One farmer told me, they would leave their doors unlocked while they were out and about working in the field. That’s an open invitation for anyone to come into your home. There is no charge for the service. All it is is communication between farmers and agricultural owners throughout Ayrshire.”

Graeme can be reached via email at graeme.gordon@strathclyde.pnn.police.uk.