POLICE have been making a big noise in the North Devon countryside in the battle against rural crime. With an increase in thefts from farms and country locations this summer, officers have not only been visiting communities with advice, but with a loud, a

POLICE have been making a big noise in the North Devon countryside in the battle against rural crime.

With an increase in thefts from farms and country locations this summer, officers have not only been visiting communities with advice, but with a loud, attention-catching device to help protect their property.

Crime Prevention Officer Donna Woolway said: "Our rural communities remain very safe and enjoyable places to live. Recent crime figures have supported this by showing that rural crime has continued to drop ever since April 2007. But we have recently experienced a slight peak in rural crime, with figures starting to rise from March 2010 and throughout the summer months.

"We have noticed an increase in crimes where the farmer will have his property 'cased' during the day. If spotted, the driver of the vehicle will give them a poor excuse for being there or just ask a question and then drive off. The farmer is then discovering the next day that they have had something stolen.

"Items stolen have ranged from quad bikes, to trailers, power tools and engines.

"The cost to the farmer is huge. They are without vital farm equipment and also have the hassle of dealing with insurance companies and finding replacements. The cost of replacing a quad bike alone can be more than £3,500."

Donna and local police officers have been visiting rural communities, promoting security awareness and advising on new technology and equipment to help people protect their property - including a new 110-decibel siren padlock alarm. This robust padlock will sound the attention-catching alarm if tampered with.

They cost £12 each and are available by contacting Donna at the Crime Prevention Office (01271 335220).

Police are also holding an advice morning in association with Mole Valley farmers at the Mole Valley premises in South Molton from 8.30am to midday tomorrow (Thursday).

For more information contact the crime prevention officer or visit www.devon-cornwall.police.uk. To pass on any information and remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.