THE theft of thousands of pounds worth of machinery within the past week has prompted a fresh warning over home security as winter approaches.
A pick-up, quad bike and trailer were stolen from a Castlederg farm premises in the early hours of Saturday. Last Thursday evening, a digger worth approximately £25,000 was stolen from a work site in Omagh. Fortunately, it was later recovered near Portadown.
The Ulster Farmers Union has warned that longer hours of darkness can present greater opportunities for criminal activity.
particularly in remote areas.
In October last year the PSNI recorded 66 incidents of agricultural crime which was 20 per-cent higher than any other month in 2016.
In light of the weekend thefts, vice county chairman of the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU), Ray Elkin is urging farmers to remain vigilant.
“Thefts are becoming an increasing cause for concern amongst farmers,” he said.
“Farmers, although ever vigilant, are being forced to up security as brazen thieves continue to target their livelihoods.”
Mr Elkin points to individuals with local knowledge as possible perpetrators of many agricultural thefts in recent months.
“It is clear that some thefts are carried out by local people who know the area,” he said. “A thief must have familiarity with a farmer’s yard and land, and have a premeditated idea of what they want to take. I feel that many thefts are carried out with pre-planned motivations.”
On Saturday morning past, three valuable items of farm machinery were stolen from a Castlederg farm premises. A Mitsubishi L200 pick up, registration KHZ9044, a Honda TE 250 quad bike and a triple axle flat-bed Porter trailer were taken from Grove Dairies, Kilclean Road between midnight and 12.30am.
Police believe two males may be linked with the theft.
“We are particularly interested in speaking to two men wearing high visibility jackets seen in the area at the time,” said Sgt Brown from the PSNI.
“If you have any information about these males or saw anything suspicious on Kilclean Road, Castlederg, please contact Strabane PSNI.”
In line with the UFU’s guidance on securing farm machinery, Ray Elkin places particular importance on the installation of tracking systems on farm machinery and livestock.
“While a tracking device may not be an overall deterrent for thieves, it would be extremely effective in retrieving the stolen vehicle.
“I am considering the use of livestock ID bolus, which allow an animal to be tracked wherever it may be. Although expensive, having one bolus animal per batch would help greatly in the event of a batch being stolen.
“Overall, it is extremely unsettling to think that thieves and other dangerous individuals are entering farm premises after hours. Farmers should be able to feel safe in their own homes.”
Anyone with information in relation to the thefts on the Kilclean road, Castlederg are asked to contact Strabane PSNI on 101 quoting reference number 361 04/11/17.