Police operation retrieves stolen machineryBy Lucy Allen
March 04, 2013
An abandoned car and stolen machinery were recovered during a police operation to tackle rural crime.
Officers were alerted to the car after seeing a torchlight shining in woods in Farley Hill, and following it to a public byway, where the car was hidden.
The occupants tried to drive off but police forced the car into a ditch, after which the occupants escaped.
Operation Festive took place on Sunday, February 17, across the borough involving 20 members of the rural community, who paired up with Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and roamed the countryside.
One of the participants, who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions, said: “We are the eyes of the countryside, we understand the countryside, so we could show the police things they might not otherwise pick up.
“The car had no registration plates, and its lights were off, but I saw the torch and knew something was going on.
“I also saw another car, and I thought there was bound to be something going on, and the police found cannabis.”
He added that poaching was a major problem in the countryside, with people killing pheasants using air rifles or catapults, using torches to find them in the dark. He said: “They do it for fun, – the birds would not fetch much money, even if someone was willing to buy them.”
Fly-tipping is increasing, he added. “They dump anything – car tyres, roofing stuff and windscreens.
“They do a clearance job for somebody but they don’t take it to the tip, they dump it on the road.”
A farmer, who also went on Operation Festive, said: “We have a lot of trouble with fly-tipping and hare coursing, where people come on to the farm and chuck their lurchers over the gate and set them on the hares.
“It is horrible. They do it for sport and I think a lot of betting goes on.”
He added: “We used to have a lot of hares on the farm and we would see them boxing in the spring. I can only recall two pairs this spring.
“We watch for vehicles and report them to the police but we don’t approach these people.”
Thames Valley Police said the operation generated good results, including three people dealt with for drug offences.
Although the thieves were not apprehended at the time, police said that they are hoping to make arrests very soon and the property – a concrete pump compressor – was recovered.
Sgt Matt Foskett, from Loddon Valley police station, said: “Preventing and detecting rural crime is one of the priorities of Thames Valley Police and I believe this operation will help to achieve this.
“I am also keen to improve confidence in the rural communities to ensure any suspicious activity is reported to police so we may act on information at the earliest opportunity.”