Hike in farm crime blamed on rise of quad bike thefts

Police stock
Police stock

Burglaries of farm buildings, workshops and sheds in Nidderdale have spiked in recent months - with thefts of quad bikes being blamed for the rise.

From September 2 to the end of November, 57 crimes have been reported in the Dale - five more than last year - according to a police report.

They include 15 ‘burglary other’ offences, which include break-ins to outbuildings.

Pateley Bridge officer PC Bill Hickson said: “Six quad bikes have been stolen in this way. One man has been arrested for a burglary in which quad bikes were stolen and no more have been stolen since.”

Police suspect thieves may be scoping out property under the guise of activities such as rabbiting or metal detecting - with officers stopping three men with a metal detector at midnight on November 21.

Last month the Nidderdale Herald revealed officers were warning landowners to be cautious about giving permission to strangers to go rabbiting.

PC Hickson said: “During November the police have been working with Farm Watch volunteers most nights to carry out additional night time patrols in Nidderdale in order to deter burglars.

“It is hard to measure success of crime prevention initiatives, however during this period no more night time burglaries have occurred and a number of criminals from West Yorkshire and Lancashire have been stopped, checked out and escorted out of the area. There have also been five arrests.”

The report, which was presented to the Nidderdale Safer Neighbourhood Group, revealed there had also been nine more incidents of criminal damage than the same period last year.

PC Hickson explained that four offences of criminal damage were committed on the same night by one person.

“He has already appeared in court and been ordered to pay compensation and fined,” he said.

The report also highlighted that there had been 18 incidents of anti-social behaviour across the dale and 22 road traffic collisions.

PC Hickson said: “None of these involved cyclists. Two of the more serious injury accidents involved pedestrians, one on Pateley Bridge High Street and the other on Whipley Bank.”

The figures also revealed a significant drop in the number of speeding vehicles in Summerbridge and Fellbeck in the space of just over a month.

PC Hickson said: “A North Yorkshire Police mobile road safety camera has been present on a regular basis in Summerbridge and Fellbeck. The camera is deployed in response to road safety statistics and complaints from local communities.

“On November 6, five vehicles were recorded speeding in an hour, four were given option of a speed awareness course and one a fixed penalty fine.

“By comparison on September 26, 38 vehicles were caught in an hour, 36 were offered the speed awareness course and two a fixed penalty fine.”

Meanwhile, farmers are being warned to be extremely wary of any suspicious calls, texts or emails, as fraudsters target the agricultural sector when large grants begin to arrive in bank accounts this month.

From December, farmers start to receive major sums of money through the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), the European Union’s main rural payments scheme.

Information about the payments, including the recipients’ names and the amount paid, is publicly available, meaning criminals are able to directly target victims and make their approaches appear more convincing.

The scam communications will typically claim that fraud has been detected on the farmer’s bank account and that urgent action is required to safeguard funds. The victim is then persuaded to divulge personal or financial information, or even to transfer money directly into a so-called “safe account”.

The warning comes from the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a police unit with a national remit, formed as a partnership between Financial Fraud Action UK, the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police together with the Home Office.

With some grants worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, in past years fraudsters have stolen significant amounts of money from their victims. As well as farmers, other organisations which use farm land also receive BPS funds.

Chief Inspector Nick Hunter, North Yorkshire Police lead for rural crime, said: “Criminals are well aware of when these annual payments start to arrive and will look for any opportunity to defraud their victims.”

“It is vital that farmers, and other recipients of the payment, are alert to these scams and are very wary of any phone calls, texts or emails out of the blue asking for personal or financial information, or to transfer money to another account.”