West Yorkshire crime gang targeting Dales farms, police warn

PCSO Sally Breen offers security advice about quad thefts.

Police have urged farmers in the northern Dales to take precautions amid a spate of vehicle thefts from farms.

Five quad bikes and a John Deere Gator have been stolen since the beginning of February in the area, with police believing criminals from West Yorkshire are targeting the area.

A spate of farm thefts took place in the Skipton area several months ago and it is thought the criminals may now have turned their attention to this area.

The thieves will often dump the vehicles locally and collect them later in vans in case they are fitted with a tracker.

PC Julian Sutcliffe, the Northern Dales neighbourhood beat manager for Leyburn, said the thieves are also aware police cannot always chase quad bikes for safety reasons.

From left, PC Julian Sutcliffe, PCSO Lucy Osborn and PCSO Bryan Tongue.

Police say they are stepping up patrols and working with rural watch scheme volunteers in a bid to catch and deter the thieves.

New ANPR cameras area which have been fitted in Richmondshire area also being utilised.

However, they have urged the general public and farmers to help.

PC Julian Sutcliffe, the Northern Dales neighbourhood beat manager, said: “We want people to do what we call ‘target hardening’.

“This means doing all you can to ensure you’re not a soft target. Think about your property like a criminal would do and assess whether it would be easy to come along and take your quad bike, Land Rover or chainsaw.”

The officer advised farmers to use a range of security measures including CCTV, good quality locks, locking posts concreted into building floors, alarms, Smart Water and prominent signage advising that you have security measures installed.

He said vehicle trackers also worked well, with many police vehicles how having the onboard capability to follow the devices.

Police in the Dales are also urging the wider public to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

They say evidence suggests the criminals are doing reconnaissance during daylight hours.

PC Sutcliffe said: “People generally know if something isn’t right. If you see a quad bike being driven late at night out without its lights on people know there is something suspicious about that.

“If you see a car full of lads pull into a farm yard in the middle of the afternoon people generally know it’s not right.

“If something doesn’t seem right or seem out of place then call us with as much details as possible including registration numbers and descriptions.”

Police are urging the public to sign up to the county’s community messaging service to get updates and advice on issues.

Click here to register for the service.