Police in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge

Police in Somerset have seized a large quantity of stolen property following the successful execution of a warrant.

Officers say 26 items of plant machinery, farm and highways equipment have been recovered from a farm site near Sparkford, many of which have been identified as stolen from locations across the country.

Police have contacted the known victims of the thefts and work is ongoing to identify the owners of the remaining equipment, who could be in other areas of Somerset.

Two men were arrested from the site on suspicion of theft and have been released under investigation.

The operation is part of a revitalised rural affairs strategy for Avon and Somerset, which sees officers working closely with victims of rural crime and sharing information across neighbourhood policing teams.

Increased investment from the force and an emphasis on community intelligence building has enabled rural affairs officers to build a clearer picture of organised crime groups targeting rural communities, resulting in successful warrants.

Farm Watch, an initiative unique to Avon and Somerset, was established in 2008 to help farmers and members of rural communities provide information to police. Now with more than 4000 members, the scheme gives police the ability to send live updates, alerting members to thefts or suspicious activity in the area, as well as providing crime prevention tips.

Police are now aiming to grow its existing membership by supporting a six month trial of select Police Community Support Officers acting as Farm Watch Ambassadors, with responsibility for promoting the scheme and improving sign ups.

Rural Affairs Sergeant Andy Murphy says: “The impact of rural crime on its victims, who carry out essential work in our communities, is often devastating.”

“We are determined to reduce rural crime by working together with Farm Watch and our internal and external partners.”

“Information provided by the public has made our recent successes possible. We continue to urge people to report suspicious activity when they see it by contacting us on 101, or 999 in an emergency.”

“It could be the missing piece of a puzzle that helps us to prevent crimes or stop them in progress, and to bring offenders to justice.”


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