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Police under pressure

RURAL CRIME continues to rampage through many areas of Scotland – and farmers are getting more and more exasperated by the failure of the police to catch the culprits.

Last Sunday night, a quad bike was stolen from Willie Nisbet's Bogside farm, Langbank, despite it being locked in the garage. The thieves also broke into a diesel tank.

Mr Nisbet told The Scottish Farmer: "The same bike was stolen almost a year ago. Back then I chased after the guy who took it. He jumped off, so I got the bike back, but he ran away.

"Last Sunday's break-in could be the same men who came to the farm three weeks ago in a Ford Fiesta asking if there was any shooting. They were obviously just checking out the place.

"I gave the registration to the police but I'm not holding out much hope of getting the bike back this time.

"I think it's the same crowd who are targetting farms in this area and that the police have an idea who they are but are unable to catch them," said Mr Nisbet.

A similar view came from Perthshire sheep farmer, Tom Paterson, of Craigneich and Dunruchan Farms, Comrie.

Said Mr Paterson: "We have an empty farmhouse being renovated by the estate which is partly furnished. I think the gang were after lead. They also broke into a shed and let the sheep out, and I think they were also after diesel. We were lucky this time as they were disturbed by the gamekeeper, who shone a torch in their direction and they drove off.

"You report these incidents to the police but you feel they are not really interested. I appreciate they don't have the time to hide out near farms every night on the lookout for thieves, but they could do more."

Douglas Colquhoun, who recently had a quad taken from his Pantly Moss Farm at Lochwinnoch, said: "Myself and my neighbours have had a lot of problems, but despite managing to get vehicle registrations of those we think are responsible, the police seem to be unable to do anything.

"On one occasion, the police came back and said the car involved was registered to a dealer, but they didn't know who was driving it," recalled Mr Colquhoun.

"In another incident they got those responsible into court, but the Procurator Fiscal threw it out because of lack of evidence."

However, a spokesman for Lothian and Borders police said that farmers themselves could do more to deter thieves.

"We can offer them a free crime protection visit. They should be on the look out for people coming to a farm and asking them odd questions such as 'do you know if so-and-so lives near here?'.

"Next Wednesday, for farmers in the Borders, we are holding a wildlife and rural crime seminar in the Borders College, Galashiels. This has already been well advertised, but despite there being 150 seats available, only 75 have been booked.

"You would think with rural crime being such a problem, it would have generated more interest."

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