Banbury Guardian reporter Martin Elvery and photographer Lucy Ford hitched a ride with Banbury police on Friday, on a proactive patrol aimed at protecting Banburyshire’s farms from thieves.
PCSO Angela Alford and crime prevention and resolution officer Jayne Taylor visited more than 20 farms in ten days this month as part of Thames Valley Police’s 100 days of action.
The aim is to sign farms up to the force’s Countrywatch scheme (the rural equivalent of Neighbourhood Watch), mark equipment and machinery with traceable tags using devices such as Cremark and Smartwater and sign farms up to the Thames Valley Alert system.
En route to some of Banburyshire’s farms recently targeted by thieves, PCSO Alford spoke of the importance of getting farmers to report anything they feel might be suspicious.
She said: “If you’re living or working somewhere you know what’s normal.
“Every little bit of information can be helpful, even if it’s minimal because it’s all part of the jigsaw.”
The rural patrols were developed after consultation with farmers. The Cherwell and West Oxfordshire Policing area was allocated 20 days to focus entirely on rural patrols as part of the force-wide 100 days of action which seeks to target spikes in theft as the nights draw in.
At a Banburyshire yard targeted by thieves eight months ago, the owner, who did not wish to be identified, was pleased to see the increased police presence .
He said: “The thief smashed his way into three vehicles and tried to get them started, then put a chain round one of the containers where the tools are kept and tried to pull the doors open. There’s a new focus now on rural crime. We see Angie quite often and you really get the feeling the police are on your side at last.”