DURHAM Police has launched a operation in the Dales to deter thieves from stealing farming equipment.
Operation Cobra uses special technology called Dot Peen to engrave equipment so it is permanently marked and easily identifiable if stolen. The first recipients, farmer Herbert Hutchinson and his wife Kathleen, had their machinery marked yesterday.
The couple, who are the fifth generation of their family to farm near Stanhope, in Weardale, had their quad bike stolen in January.
The quad was recovered but the family was keen to take part in the new operation in an effort to deter thieves.
The scheme is funded by the Weardale and Teesdale Area Action Partnerships (AAPs).
PCSO Gavin Robson and PC Craig Dowson used the Dot Peen equipment to mark each of the Hutchinsons’ machines.
The marks can be used on all property with a personalised ID for everything from computers to bikes and machinery. Signs were placed at the entrance to their property highlighting that the machines have been marked.
Mr Hutchinson said he was pleased to be the first to have use of the free service and added that he would encourage all Dales residents to take advantage of it.
He said: “I think it’s a jolly good idea and I’d encourage everyone to get it done.
“We use our vehicles every single day of the year so to have something that helps further protect them from thieves is only a good thing.”
It comes as figures from NFU Mutual revealed County Durham and Darlington experienced a 23 per cent reduction in rural crime in 2019, with rural crime costing £434,883 last year, compared to £563,248 in 2018. Across the whole of the UK last year, rural crime cost £54.3m.
Police inspector for Crook, Teesdale and Weardale, Ed Turner said: “The Dales is already a very safe place to live and work and by working in partnership with the AAPs, we have a good opportunity to make it even safer. I would encourage anyone who wants to take advantage of the service to get in touch with officers.”
Durham County Councillor for Weardale, Anita Savory, added: “Any crime impacts on the farmer, their livelihood, workforce and community.
“The farmers work hard 365 days of the year to serve the community so anything to help them is great news.”
Angela Maddison, of Weardale AAP, said: “Supporting and funding a pragmatic solution for both AAPs, it will reduce the displacement of crime and the worry of becoming a victim of crime.”
Emma Spry of Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services, added: “Statistics show that Teesdale and Weardale are one of the safest places in the country to live in relation to crime.
“That said we are well aware that every single crime bites hard in someone’s livelihood and causes anxiety in the community. Anything we can do to make it more difficult for criminals, has to be a positive move.