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New approach launched to drive down rural crime

Dorset Police has unveiled its latest tool to tackle rural crime – a 3.5 tonne tractor.

The tractor – complete with flashing blue lights – has been loaned to Dorset Police at no cost to the taxpayer.

As part of Operation Countryside, the tractor – an 85 horsepower Zetor Proxima – will be used as a display to raise awareness of rural crime across the county at upcoming shows and events, including the Dorset County Show in Dorchester on Saturday 3 September 2011.

The tractor was loaned to Dorset Police free of charge by Zetor UK.

Operation Countryside has been supported by the National Farmers Union (NFU), M J Fry Agricultural Engineering, Zetor UK, NFU Mutual, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and Porter Dodson Solicitors & Advisors.

Dorchester and Sherborne Neighbourhood Inspector Les Fry said: “This tractor will be used as a demonstration tool to raise awareness of rural crime in Dorset.

“The tractor has been supplied to us for free, with no costs to Dorset Police or the tax payer.

“We will be displaying it at shows and events in Dorset where we aim to engage with rural communities to make sure they do everything possible to reduce crime and make themselves less likely to become victims of rural crime.

“We hope this partnership will bring to the community’s attention the increasing cost of rural crime.

“We want the support of rural communities to help combat criminals in their areas. Crimes such as theft of lead, scrap metal, heating oil and diesel are on the increase as fuel prices rise.

“Through Operation Countryside, we hope to encourage people to take all the crime prevention steps that they can, such as asset marking and using tracking devices.

“People should also consider installing CCTV where appropriate and sign up to initiatives such as Stop That Thief and Stop That Oil.

“We also want to encourage people to consider calling the police should they see any suspicious activity.

“I am grateful for the support of Zetor UK, the NFU, the NFU Mutual, CLA, M J Fry and Porter Dodson for their support.

“We hope that by working together we can reduce rural crime and make our communities safer and feel safer.”

Mike Fry, of M J Fry Agricultural Engineers, said: “Running a company with very close connections to the rural community, I get to see first hand the cost involved both in financial terms and the loss of time related to rural crime.

“A stolen battery means that vehicle cannot work when required. A stolen machine means that the farmer cannot do the job when he needs to, so the knock on effects can be significant to the running of a business.

“We are pleased to be part of this community initiative to highlight the issues behind rural crime.”

John Howden, Managing Director of Zetor UK Ltd, said: “Zetor UK Ltd are pleased to be part of this venture launched by Dorset Police.

“We feel that any project aimed at saving the farming community from any further cost and avoidable worries, mirrors our ethos exactly.

“It also demonstrates that the police, in conjunction with the agricultural industry, take this type of crime very seriously, and when we all work together the results can be very impressive.”

Robert Lasseter, NFU Dorset County Chairman, said: “Rural crime is up by 17% and tractor theft by 8%.

“This exciting initiative is about raising awareness of self help schemes for members, such as Stop That Thief, Farm Watch and Stop That Oil.

“It is a really good example of the rural community coming together to jointly combat the criminal element of society.”

Rob Fox, from Porter Dodson Solicitors & Advisors, said: “Porter Dodson's Rural Matters team works closely with a large number of farmers and landowners across the county and we are only too aware of the cost, inconvenience and stress that rural crime causes.

“This eye-catching campaign to raise awareness of rural crime and how to prevent it underlies a very serious message and we are pleased to support Inspector Fry and Dorset Police with the Operation Countryside project."

Dorset Police tractor