Quad bike theft warning for Powys farmers

media captionCriminals "prey on vulnerable areas"

Farmers have been warned to protect their property following a spate of thefts from farms.

During the past year, 102 quad bikes have been stolen in Powys, making quad bike theft the most common crime in the county, according to Powys' Community Safety Partnership.

Dyfed-Powys Police said thieves were becoming more daring and organised criminal gangs were targeting farms.

Supt Ifan Charles said it was a "significant challenge".

"We've had a significant number of farm vehicles and tools being taken across Powys, over 100 quad bikes in the last 12 months, but also Land Rovers, trailers and other farming equipment.

"We've definitely seen an increase in the number of groups from the north Wales area, down along the border with West Mercia and in the Gwent and South Wales areas."

The Jones family who farm near Llanerfyl were victims in June when two Land Rovers - one towing a trailer - were stolen in the early hours of the morning.

They were asleep at the time and heard nothing but saw the thieves on their CCTV system the next day.

image captionWali and Elen Jones were victims of theft earlier this year

Farmer Wali Jones, said: "There were three people on the cameras.

"They were wearing hoodies and gloves and so they had no intention of leaving any finger prints. It was all too easy for them."

"They were so brazen", added his wife Elen.

"It's that feeling that they must have been watching us for days, perhaps weeks, to see where we were keeping stuff.

"And then they went to another farm and took their bikes and loaded them on to the trailer.

"So it was all pre-planned and very professionally done."

There was a tracker fitted on one of the vehicles and the family were able to trace it.

It was found in a field across the border near Telford, where they also recovered the other Land Rover and trailer.

image captionSupt Ifan Charles said the recent spate of thefts was a "significant challenge"

Police said farmers need to be far more alert and ensure their valuables were secure to counter the threat posed by criminals.

Supt Charles said: "We are being impacted by organised gangs in the north and the south of Powys.

"We have to make sure that we are as capable as possible in working with our partners.

"We share information every week now with the farming unions so they can be more proactive with their members in telling them where the offences are happening."

Dyfed-Powys Police has had some success, carrying out 15 arrests and one prosecution, with a number of others still under investigation.

But Stella Owen, a county advisor for NFU Cymru in south Powys and Monmouthshire, said the targeting of farms has had an impact.

"There is quite a feeling of vulnerability out there as to people not knowing who is going to be hit next.

"Given where the thefts have taken place it does feel as if Powys is being targeted.

"When a theft does take place, the financial implications of that is one thing but it is also the level of intrusion which is uncomfortable and no-one should have to go through that.

"We can't be complacent - we've got to be vigilant and lock things up."

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