Join the fight against crime in rural areas

Pictured from left with some of the Rural Watch signs are Stephen Jeal, Melton NFU Mutual senior group secretary, Hugh Brown, cheif executive officer of Gillstream Markets Ltd which manages Melton Market, Leicestershire Police deputy chief constable Roger Bannister and Pc Mark Longden, dedicated neighbourhood officer covering the Vale of Belvoir EMN-160108-163902001
Pictured from left with some of the Rural Watch signs are Stephen Jeal, Melton NFU Mutual senior group secretary, Hugh Brown, cheif executive officer of Gillstream Markets Ltd which manages Melton Market, Leicestershire Police deputy chief constable Roger Bannister and Pc Mark Longden, dedicated neighbourhood officer covering the Vale of Belvoir EMN-160108-163902001
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More people and businesses across the Melton borough are being urged to join a crime-fighting Rural Watch scheme after a survey revealed that rural crime cost Leicestershire half a million pounds last year.

Figures issued by insurer NFU Mutual this week showed the cost to the county fell by nine per cent compared to 2014.

But nearly two thirds of NFU Mutual Agent’s surveyed said thieves in their area are becoming more sophisticated in how they operate and cyber crime is a growing concern.

In February a new Rural Watch scheme was launched in Melton. The free-to-join scheme, which now has about 5,000 members, is a support network between residents and police which helps keep people informed of any crimes or suspicious activity in their area by quickly sharing information. Crime prevention advice and measures, such as gate signs, are also available.

One of the benefits is that people who sign up will become part of an alert system called FastText which will keep them informed of incidents that have happened where they live or work. To help police tackle rural crime more effectively they want members to report crimes or any suspicious persons, vehicles or activity by calling 101.

NFU Mutual senior agent Tom Shepherd said: “It’s reassuring to see rural crime falling in Leicestershire and reflects the huge efforts being made by anti-crime schemes throughout the countryside.

“Rural thieves are becoming more sophisticated. Farmers and police have been working hard to adopt high-tech security measures to tackle problems which now include cloning tractor identities, advertising non-existent machinery in agricultural publications and stealing the GPS computer systems .”

In regards to rural homes falling victim to crime, NFU Mutual says the theft of garden equipment is the biggest growing trend along with 4x4s. Mr Shepherd added: “Our advice to people living and working in the countryside is: evaluate your security measures making any necessary improvements, stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the local police and community watch schemes.”

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