Rural crime in Scotland is a blight

Rural crime remains a major blight on Scotland’s countryside but working nationally and regionally with Police Scotland and other stakeholders in the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) progress is being made.

By John A. MacInnes
Monday, 29th March 2021, 8:04 am
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 8:10 am
The deployment of Police Scotland quad bikes in some parts of rural Scotland has made a positive contribution to the ongoing challenge of rural crime in these areas.
The deployment of Police Scotland quad bikes in some parts of rural Scotland has made a positive contribution to the ongoing challenge of rural crime in these areas.

With vehicle, quad and machinery theft still an all-too-common occurrence on Scottish farms and crofts, NFU Scotland has used the most recent edition of its membership magazine, Scottish Farming Leader, to remind all members of simple steps that can be taken to protect property against both opportunistic and organised crime.

Scotland’s rural police initiative has toughened up its approach to catching organised criminal gangs operating across the country. Thankfully, such crimes are rare on the islands, primarily due to the access arrangements, whereby you can only arrive and leave by boat if you’re trying to also remove your ill-gotten gains.

With Scotland already reaping the benefits of the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) strategy launched in April, 2019, it is now upping the game by adopting new technology

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Tag your machinery for extra security

The Union is urging greater vigilance as a spike in incidents of rural crime is being seen in many parts of Scotland.

NFU Scotland Vice President Robin Traquair said: “The threat of rural crime is ever present and there is a need for all who live and work in rural Scotland to remain vigilant and take steps that can help protect their livestock, property, vehicles and home. I urge you to secure vehicles, fuel, tools and property properly; invest in trackers and report suspicious people and vehicles to help in keeping crime at bay.”

Writing in the Union’s membership magazine, Inspector Alan Dron, Police Scotland’s National Rural Crime Co-ordinator stated: “Criminals are getting more intuitive and using smarter technology to carry out crimes, so any steps farmers, crofters and small holders can take to protect their property will help.

“Some criminals are using drones, Google Earth as well as more traditional drive-bys to check where security cameras, vehicles and machinery are stored, and spot if people are working on the farm or around buildings. They can relay this information to their partners on the ground and be in and out of a location without being noticed.

Make sure your buildings are secure at all times.

“Despite this and thanks to many farmers, crofters and smallholders already taking steps to protect their property, Police Scotland are managing to retrieve more and more stolen agricultural vehicles, plant and quads due to many businesses investing in smart technology, security and trackers to protect their property.

“Currently the popular targets are quads, trailers and tractors. There’s a market for them but sadly don’t be fooled into thinking lightning doesn’t strike twice. Quite often the thieves can return a few weeks after the initial incident as they know there will be a new replacement vehicle on site that is there for the taking. Police Scotland regularly record several repeat offenses.

“Personalising any vehicle will help with identification and recovery. Make notes about the vehicle identity number (VIN), distinguishing or unique features and take photos!

"Remember not all officers will be familiar with what a certain type of specialist equipment, tractor or quad will look like, so photos are ideal and easy to take on your phone anytime.

“The more information you can share with the police the better. Based on the farmer’s description, we recovered a tractor which had been shipped overseas that still had the rightful owner’s furry dice and stickers in the cab. If you have a dent or anything added to the vehicle that’s personal then record that. It all helps when it comes to recovering your property.

“It is also really important that you help us by reporting any crime or suspicious behaviour to 101 (or 999 if a crime is underway) and noting things like vehicle registrations. A small incident on your farm or croft may not mean much to you but if it happened to two or three or more of your neighbours then it suddenly becomes three of four reported incidents and strengthens evidence that we can work with.

“The more intelligence we have, the more likely we are to complete the jigsaw and track criminals down. Working together we can help protect rural Scotland against crime.”

'Rural Watch Scotland' is an extension of the Neighbourhood Watch movement and a product of (SPARC) aimed specifically at the rural community of Scotland and aims to bring all the benefits of Neighbourhood Watch to your community irrespective of its location, size or demographics.

More information on the scheme and what they do is available at via a dedicated website which can be accessed at: