Lancaster and Morecambe rural crime arrests

The check site on Caton Road.

The check site on Caton Road.

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Three people were arrested and more than 35 vehicles stopped as part of rural crime crackdown in Morecambe and Lancaster.

Vehicles were stopped and checked on Caton Road by Lancashire Constabulary along with staff from the Department of Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

Police officers held the check site at the Holiday Inn car park in Lancaster to attempt to identify stolen plant and farm machinery and prosecute suspected offenders.

Sergeant Simon Balderstone, who has been with Lancaster Police for 26 years, said rural crime can vary from theft of farm machinery, quad bikes and sheep rustling.

Sgt Balderstone said: “We target vehicles that look a bit worse for wear, any we think may be involved in rural crime. We had a spate of rural crime before Christmas but we are seeing a downfall in such offenders.”

The operation also focused on the movement of machinery through Heysham Port with officers on hand to identify stolen machinery being exported. According to NFU Mutual, rural crime costs Lancashire £1.4 million pounds annually.

Sgt Dylan Hrynkow from Lancaster Police Station said: “When we say plant and farm machinery, it can mean machinery like diggers, trailers, things that are used by businesses in the rural community. Plant machinery being stolen is notoriously difficult to find and locate.

“Offences involving theft of machinery have a huge impact – often on small family businesses – and we are determined to continue to work with other agencies to tackle them.

“I would ask anyone who has any suspicions about stolen plant and machinery or illegal activity in our rural communities to report it.”

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Around three quarters of Lancashire is classed as rural and we know these types of offences can have a significant impact on victims. I welcome initiatives like this which help to disrupt criminals operating in the county.”

There is a Rural Watch initiative in Lancaster and Morecambe – a free scheme that alerts those signed up to crimes that occur. Anyone interested in joining can sign up at www.stayintheknow.co.uk. Anyone with any information about rural crime can police on 101.