POLICE have arrested a man for burglary, visited over 270 farms and signed up 75 farms to their Farm Watch Scheme as part of a day of action tackling rural crime last week.

Officers were also at local events, farmers markets, farm shops, garden centres and equestrian centres across the area to give crime prevention advice, help with property marking and hand-out property marking kits.

The Roads Policing Unit conducted stop-checks and other operations along the M5 looking for stolen property and illegal red diesel.

Superintendent Ian Wylie, the force lead on rural crime, said: “Last week's day of action was a really positive and successful. We are primarily a rural police force and we need to respond to the needs of our communities.

“We are already working closely with farmers and rural communities and over the past six months we have been talking directly to them to discuss the issues that concern them the most and ways we can improve our service. Launching the rural crime team is a direct result of those conversations.”

“Farmers need to know that we understand the long-term effect that crime can have on their business and day-to-day working environment. We know that whilst the theft or damage to an electric fence or battery might have a relatively low direct cost, the implications of the fence being down and the consequences in terms of livestock and crops can be huge.”

Sue Mountstevens, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The introduction of the Rural Crime Team comes at the perfect time with many residents and farmers expressing their desire to engage and work more closely with the police.

“It was clear from the property marking session how fundamental it is that rural crime becomes a priority for Avon and Somerset Police. I believe this new team and focused days of action will build on the invaluable work already undertaken by the police's dedicated officers, staff and volunteers.”