Farmers call time on rural crime as thieves strike again

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A Kintyre farmer is calling for stronger action in the fight against rural crime after being targeted by thieves last week, for the third time in six years.

Andrew Glenn of Saddell Home Farm was one of several Kintyre farmers affected when the criminals struck overnight between Wednesday October 20 and Thursday October 21.

As well as a number of quad bikes, a car was stolen from Campbeltown.

Thanks to information from the community and proactive work by officers in Mid Argyll and Oban, a number of arrests were made near Connel on suspicion of these thefts.

Although all vehicles reported stolen have been recovered, the cumulative effect of incidents like this, which have blighted the community over that last few years and as recently as March, has a huge impact on the farming community.

Despite increasing security measures following the first theft, Saddell Home Farm continues to be targeted, with quads, a generator and power tools among the items stolen.

As well as working on the family farm, 29-year-old Andrew runs Saddell Nursery, selling locally-grown plants and fresh eggs, and carries out contract work.

‘I work several jobs to help afford this equipment, essential for the day-to-day running of our farm, and it is heartbreaking to have that stolen from you,’ he said.

‘Not only that but it instils a sense of fear and anxiety in many in the area that it will happen to them.

‘Considering the majority of the rural population is on the older side, I know many of them are terrified after events like this.

‘Something desperately needs to change in Kintyre to end this increasing level of rural crime.

‘If any of the local community committees, along with bodies like NFU Scotland, can come up with any workable ideas it would be greatly appreciated.’

Duncan Macalister, chairman of NFU Scotland’s Argyll and the Islands regional board and Kintyre branch, said: ‘NFU Scotland is keen to work with Police Scotland locally to help advise members how best to keep their property safe, and we will be taking actions forward on this over the next few weeks.

‘It remains important, however, that anyone who notices a strange vehicle in an unusual place or unexpected activity in the countryside, takes time to report the registration number and any details by calling 101 and allowing Police Scotland to take the matter further.

‘Even small details may allow police to gain a better perspective of the issues happening in and around our farms.’

With continuing enquiries into last week’s thefts, and other incidents that might be connected to the suspected activity of those arrested, police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information in relation to the events to contact them on 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Inspector Paul Collins, who covers Lochgilphead and Campbeltown, is urging farmers to review their security measures and ensure all vehicles and equipment are securely locked away where possible.

‘I would also ask that owners do not leave keys in the vehicle,’ he said. ‘Whilst accepting that this is extremely convenient when working, it is just as convenient to would-be thieves.

‘Whilst my officers will continue to patrol proactively through the night, these simple security steps by owners will help to minimise the opportunities to people intent on stealing vehicles from our communities.

‘We, of course, would be only too happy to take part in any prevention planning with the farming community and NFU Scotland.’

Argyll and Bute MSP Jenni Minto and South Kintyre’s three councillors told the Courier they would also support any collaborative efforts to tackle the issue of rural crime.

Councillor John Armour said he would be ‘more than happy’ to get involved in any campaign to try to stop the ‘dreadful blight’ being caused to Kintyre’s rural community.

Councillor Donald Kelly said: ‘I am happy to take part and support any initiative which will help make our community more resilient.

‘I think a first step should be to source funding to install high quality CCTV at key locations which will cover all possible exits from Kintyre on the A83.’

Councillor Rory Colville added: ‘I certainly agree there needs to be a collaborative partnership approach.

‘With this in mind, I have contacted the management team of Argyll and Bute Community Planning Partnership and requested it asks partners, which include the police and NFU Scotland representatives, to explore positive solutions not just for Kintyre but for all of Argyll and Bute.’