FARMERS are being urged to remain vigilant following incidences of rural crime in Powys.

NFU Cymru and the Dyfed Powys Police Rural Crime Team are reminding farmers to securely store equipment following a number of quad bike thefts in the area.

Geraint Watkins, NFU Cymru Brecon & Radnor county chairman, said: “Following recent quads thefts in the county, this is a timely reminder that we can never drop our guard.

“The Dyfed Powys Police Rural Crime Team have a good understanding of our rural communities and we are working together to build positive links between Powys farmers and police. Everything must be done to try to protect property from not only theft, but the intrusion onto farms.”

Charlie Jones, from the Rural Crime Team, said: “We saw an increased surge in reports of quad bike thefts in 2019 and collaboratively launched Operation Maple in response to this.

“This operation was twofold – criminal investigations were carried out into reported crimes by response officers, while at the same time our Powys Rural Crime Team, Crime Prevention Team and Local Neighbourhood Team officers worked upon a crime prevention element, making it more difficult for criminals to target rural properties.

“As part of this problem-solving initiative, we obtained over £6,000 in funding to support victims of rural crime with a prevention and an on-going target-hardening programme.”

The team invested in more than 500 kits to mark agricultural equipment, with an emphasis on quad bikes. Details of marked items are stored on a database, making it easier to return stolen property to its owner.

Mr Watkins concluded: “It is vital that we reduce the risk of a theft taking place. I urge farmers to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to 101.”

There are also a number of steps farmers can take to try and keep their equipment safe.

• Take photos of quads, from side, front and back, including any distinguishing marks. Keep these pictures safe in case of a theft.

• Consider installing a tracking device onto farm machinery. NFU Cymru members can access a discount on TRACKER devices via CallFirst.

• Quads should always be locked away and keys removed.