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Crewkerne initiative to beat rural crime
7:51pm Tuesday 5th February 2013 in News
POLICE have launched a scheme to help tackle rural crime.
Officers began a pilot of the scheme in the Crewkerne area when they teamed up with members of the local farming community for the first in a series of special patrols.
During the late night patrol, farmers and other members of the rural community were positioned at strategic points on the patch and were in direct communication with officers.
Their role was to call in anything suspicious and local officers then conducted stop checks of any suspicious vehicles.
The scheme is designed to help prevent crimes such as heating oil and diesel thefts, lead and scrap metal thefts, quad bike thefts and theft of power tools.
The pilot is an extension of the successful long-running Operation Shogun, which the Crewkerne beat team and PCSO Matt Tailby, the Farm Watch lead for South Somerset, have been developing in partnership with Dorset Police.
Operation Shogun involves carrying out dedicated night-time operations in rural areas, in additional to regular patrols, to help identify any suspicious activity.
It has had significant success in recent years and has led to arrests on suspicion of a number of theft-related offences.
Sgt Richard Barnett, the officer in charge of the latest operation which took place on January 16, said: "Preventing these crimes is very important, and most local people that are stop checked are reassured and glad to know that we take this type of crime seriously.
"Around 30 vehicles were stopped during the course of the operation and fortunately no arrests were made. I am pleased to also report that we only had four rural crime incidents reported in the period following the operation, which compares with last year when we had more than twice that number of incidents reported during the same time period."
He added: "We will continue to regularly stage these operations, working alongside the local community and our colleagues from neighbouring police forces, to help ensure that Somerset remains a low crime area and that residents feel safe in our rural communities."
Sgt Barnett also urged all members of the public to contact the police if they see any suspicious activity or have information about any offences committed in their area.
To contact your local beat team call 101 or to speak to independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously call 0800 555 111.