Region sees rise in rural crime

Matthew Le Grys's father's farm in Winfarthing has been broken into twice in recent weeks, with thou

Matthew Le Grys's father's farm in Winfarthing has been broken into twice in recent weeks, with thousands of pounds worth of equipment stolen. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

The scale of rural crime in our region has been highlighted after a farmer has put up a £10,000 reward for the return of his valuable tractor.

Thieves stole Ian Mason's green and yellow John Deere tractor, which is worth about £45,000, from a yard in Wells Wondy Lane, Gayton, near King's Lynn.

It comes as our region is shown to be a rural crime hotspot with only the north east recording more farm thefts in 2015.

In figures obtained from NFU Mutual, farmers from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire claimed £2m in insurance after being targeted by thieves last year. And while farm thefts have decreased slightly in many areas of the country in 2015, this region saw an increase of 3.7pc.

Items commonly targeted by thieves include quad bikes, machinery and trailers.

Mr Mason, 53, said he is offering a reward to make a stand.

He said: 'I'm annoyed, frustrated and concerned. One of the biggest fears is, if it has happened once, can it happen again? We'll have to step up security and it's frustrating with the costs involved. I've had people say is it the right thing to do, to offer a reward. But I've got to try and do something.'

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And in another incident which shows that rural crime is a concern for the agricultural industry, a farmer from Winfarthing, near Diss, is counting the cost after thieves stole £12,000 worth of equipment.

Clem Le Grys was burgled twice in under three weeks, with thieves helping themselves to items including a £6,000 Ifor Williams trailer and quad bike.

Mr Le Grys has spent £1,000 on security measures including CCTV and secure gates and locks.

Mr Le Grys's son, Matthew, said: 'It's on your mind all the time but you shouldn't have to live like this. You think in the country that you're away from crime.

'I think community is key. The police could send notices [about crimes] to a coordinator in a village and they could then spread the news. Not everyone is online to see things.'

John Newton, NFU Norfolk County adviser, said rural crime is a cause for concern.

He said: 'We hold regular meetings with the police to highlight members' concerns and we encourage farmers to help in the fight against crime by getting involved in farm watch schemes and security marking tractors and other equipment.

'We also urge members to report all crime, so the police have a true picture of what's happening in the countryside.'

Mr Mason's tractor, which has the registration AU11 DVX, was stolen between 12pm on February 12 and 3pm on February 15.

Anyone with information on the incidents mentioned are asked to call police on 101.