Residents in Tayside are being reminded to be alert and report any suspicious persons or vehicles to assist in the prevention of rural crime.
Police Scotland and Tayside Division have jointed forces with NFU Scotland, offering advice on how to prevent rural crime.
Rural crime takes many forms, from theft of agricultural vehicles, machinery and tools, to fuel and metal thefts or crimes relating to livestock or wildlife.
Perpetrators of such crimes can be opportunists or they can work within organised crime gangs.
Police Scotland is working with partner agencies and communities across Tayside to raise awareness of security measures that can be taken to reduce crime, to encourage the reporting of suspicious incidents and to carry out enforcement activity in connection with rural crime.
Superintendent Graeme Murdoch, Tayside Division said: “The most common reports of rural crime in Tayside relates to the theft of machinery, including quad bikes and trailers, which are a popular target for thieves.
“Quiet unlit country roads in our rural communities allow opportunistic thieves ideal conditions to carry out their crimes.
“Isolated farm or country tracks provide easy access for thieves to carry out a variety of criminal activities which may go unnoticed and unchallenged by those living in the area.
“To help prevent against rural vehicle theft, residents can take some simple preventative measures such as making sure that keys are removed and kept safely on your person or when vehicles are not in use for a period of time, that keys are stored securely out of sight.
“Try to avoid leaving vehicles or trailers in a vulnerable or visible location, particularly for any long period of time. High value property should be stored in a safe place such as a locked shed or outbuilding. Try to avoid leaving barn or shed doors open when they are not in use, especially if they can be seen from the road. During the hours of darkness, the addition of security lights around your property can also help to deter criminal activity.
“To assist police in the recovery of high value property, it is good practice to keep a record of all machinery, tools, vehicles and equipment, taking photographs and noting down serial numbers if possible. You can also take measures to mark or customise your trailers so that if they are recovered, they are easily identifiable. You can use either your postcode or other another mark and this information can be die-stamped or engraved.
“If you notice any suspicious activity in your area, report it. Try to remember descriptions of persons involved including gender, age, height, build and clothing. Write down details of any vehicles used - including the registration number, make, model and colour. If there are any other people in the area who may have witnessed a crime it would be helpful if they can provide their details so that police can get in contact.
“Agriculture, tourism and leisure forms a significant part of our lifestyle in Tayside and by sharing information and working together in reporting incidents and taking preventative measures, we can reduce rural crime and protect our communities.”
NFU Scotland Regional Manager Kate Maitland said: “Crime in the countryside is a growing blight on those living and working in rural communities but efforts by all stakeholders to tackle the problem are being stepped up.
“The theft of machinery, quad bikes, fuel, metal, livestock and tools brings the total bill for Scotland to more than £2 million per year.
“Working with Police Scotland, we want farmers and others in the countryside to take steps to protect themselves and their property and play their part in reporting any criminal activity in a bid to make our rural areas a safer place.”
For more information on how you can prevent and report rural crime please read a booklet entitled ‘Guide To Security In The Rural Environment’ which can be found on the Police Scotland website.