Criminals target 'soft touch' Dorset farms
Thieves are targeting Dorset's farming community as it is a soft touch, according to the head of a police operation set up to combat rural crime.
Crimes such as the theft of metal and heating oil have risen 40% in Dorchester and Sherborne, to 198 incidents so far this year.
Machinery, quad bikes, sheep and fuel have also been stolen from farms.
Insp Les Fry, head of Operation Countryside, urges the community to be more security conscious and vigilant.
Farmers have also been warned of arson attacks to barns after there were 16 barn fires between 1 April and 18 October, compared with six during the same time period last year.
Mr Fry, neighbourhood inspector for Dorchester and Sherborne, said: "The farming community is generally trustworthy as they know their neighbours, but times are changing and criminals are now travelling further and exploiting the rural parts of Dorset.
"It's getting harder to steal in urban areas as there's more crime prevention so criminals are turning their attentions to rural areas.
"We want the rural community to make it harder for criminals to commit crime."