Six of the rural crimes which have hit region since The Yorkshire Post published week-long special series

THE scale and variety of crimes committed in rural areas continues to pose challenges to countryside communities and police forces alike.

A red kite
A red kite

Today, The Yorkshire Post is highlighting just six of the crimes which have happened in the region’s many rural areas since we published a week-long special series into the issue in May and June.

They are examples of six of the biggest challenges faced by law enforcement our region’s rural areas: the persecution of protected wildlife, the theft of agricultural equipment and vehicles, attacks on farmers’ livestock, the theft of expensive horse tack, environmental crimes such as fly-tipping and burglaries of isolated businesses and homes.

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Lambs killed with bow and arrow

Two lambs were killed with an arrow shot from a bow in fields near Richmond, North Yorkshire. Police said the incident was “shocking”.

The animals were found dead in fields near to Ravensworth Castle, and were believed to have been killed some time between June 22 and 23 using a recurve- or compound-type bow.

Officers from North Yorkshire Police are still investigating the incident and have not yet made any arrests over the matter.

Speaking at the time, Pc Mark Wood, Richmond rural beat manager and wildlife crime officer at North Yorkshire Police, said: “This is a terrible and cruel crime, and I would urge anyone with any information about it to contact me.”

Anyone who is able to help with the police investigation can dial 101 and ask for Pc Mark Wood at Richmond Police Station, or email [email protected], or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

The killing of the lambs is a highly unusual livestock crime. Far more common is sheep worrying, with rustling also a frequent concern.

The protection of livestock from attacks or theft is one of six key priorities in the country’s first Rural Crime Strategy, unveiled by the National Poice Chiefs’ Council at a summit held at the Pavilions in Harrogate last month.

Thieves target cricket clubs

Two cricket grounds in rural parts of Yorkshire were targeted by thieves in the space of a fortnight.

The first crime happened at South Milford Cricket Club near Selby overnight between June 9 and 10, when thieves broke into a secure container and stole a small tractor.

Then, on June 24, two men were disturbed acting suspiciously at nearby Burton Salmon Cricket Club.

North Yorkshire Police officers have since visited both venues and security-marked their equipment, but the incidents prompted a warning to sports clubs and other organisations in rural areas to double-check their security and remain vigilant.

Criminals will travel long distances across county borders to target premises in isolated areas, officers said.

Inspector Jon Grainge, who leads the North Yorkshire Police Rural Taskforce, said: “North Yorkshire is one of the safest places in the country, but it’s important we stay vigilant and do everything we can to keep people and businesses safe, particularly in rural areas.”

Expensive saddles stolen from van

Thieves stole 13 saddles in a raid on a van in York.

The van was broken into overnight between June 14 and 15 and while the cost of the saddles was not revealed by police, they were described as “of considerable value”.

At the time, police publicised the serial numbers on the saddles and asked anyone who might be offered the items for sale to remain vigilant.

A spokeswoman for the force said all lines of enquiry had now been exhausted, although the investigation remained open and any new information that came to light would be investigated.

Expensive horse tack is often a target for thieves.

Later that month, burglars fled with a large amount of horse tack from a dairy farm in Sicklinghall, near Wetherby. They stole four saddles, four bridles, clippers and other equestrian items.

Pc Hannah McPeake, of North Yorkshire Police’s rural taskforce, said: “Sadly, a number of these crimes have been reported this year, with stables and tack rooms being targeted and large quantities of expensive horse tack being stolen.”

The force offers a free tack-marking service which involves marking items with a unique number using ‘dot peen’ property-marking technology. The next security-marking day will take place on September 29 at R&R Country, Hemingbrough, Selby, from 10am until 2pm.

Protected red kite found killed

FORENSIC tests are being carried out on the body of a protected red kite, which was found dead in the Yorkshire Dales.

The bird was found on July 12 at Barden, on the Bolton Abbey estate, and an X-ray showed a small piece of shot inside it.

The law protects all wild birds from persecution.

The latest death brings the number of illegal killings of red kites in Yorkshire to 42 since their reintroduction to the region nearly 20 years ago, with 13 of the birds having been shot.

At the time, Doug Simpson, Yorkshire red kite co-ordinator, said: “It is sickening that a small minority of people appear intent on breaking the law by targeting these birds, which have become an integral part of our beautiful North Yorkshire countryside.”

Sergeant Kevin Kelly, wildlife crime lead for North Yorkshire Police, said they aimed to establish whether the bird had been shot near to where it was found or had flown there while injured.

The investigation is ongoing.

Police deploy 'stingers' in pursuit of stolen quad bikes

A TEENAGE BOY was arrested and two stolen quad bikes recovered after a police pursuit in rural North Yorkshire.

Officers on patrol spotted two quad bikes travelling together along the A65 near Settle in suspicious circumstances, at 2.20am on July 23. Police deployed a ‘stinger’ spike strip near Gargrave, stopping one of the quads. However, its rider then got on the other quad and drove off.

Police officers pursued the remaining quad towards Ilkley along the A65, before it turned down a track at Draughton and came to a stop. Both riders ran off.

A 15-year-old boy from Bradford was later arrested on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle, burglary and dangerous driving. He has since been released under investigation while inquiries continue.

No other suspect was found, despite an extensive search.

The two Honda quad bikes, which had been stolen from a farm in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, were recovered.

The incident was among a spate of quad bike thefts in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, with police officers warning owners to step up their security measures by fitting wheel clamps or locking posts, tracking devices and bespoke immobiliser systems.

There were 47 quad bikes stolen in Craven in 2017, compared to 22 in 2016 and 12 in 2015.

Fly-tippers leave broken glass along road

IRRESPONSIBLE fly-tippers left broken sheets of glass, doors and other rubbish strewn along a 100-metre stretch of road in Richmondshire.

The mess, in Jolby Lane, near Stapleton, was reported to the police by a member of the public on the morning of Saturday, July 14.

Officers swept the glass to the roadside to avoid any danger to motorists and the incident was reported to the local authority. North Yorkshire Police said it seemed as if a tipper vehicle had discarded its load as it drove along the lane. The investigation remains ongoing.

The force had only recently teamed up with local councils and others to begin Operation Eyeball, an initiative to combat fly-tipping.

At the time, Supt Paula Booth, inset, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “Fly-tipping is a selfish crime that blights local environments and spoils people’s enjoyment of our towns and countryside. It is a source of pollution, a potential danger to public health and a hazard to wildlife. It also undermines legitimate waste businesses who operate within the law."