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Rural communities in Wales targeted by cross border criminals

30 May 2023 5 minute read
Cows. Picture by the FUW

Siân Williams

The A55 expressway makes it easy for criminals to pop over the border from England to commit crimes in rural Wales according to Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) President Glyn Roberts.

“Stealing from farms and rural areas has become more of a problem during the past two to three years,” Mr Roberts told Nation.Cymru.

“One key factor for this, I think, is that it’s easy to travel in and out (of north Wales) along the A55, and another factor being that we are now going through uncertain times as regards the economy.”

Crime has become more sophisticated and the criminals themselves more organised said Mr Roberts.

“It especially true when we’re dealing with farm animals – which is food – being stolen, there is a much larger population over the border and criminals can then sell a butchered carcass as food.”

The Welsh Government has previously stated that rural theft alone was valued to cost £1.3m in 2021.

In 2021, Rob Taylor was appointed Wales’s Rural and Wildlife Crime Coordinator, the first role of its kind in the UK and one FUW President Glyn Roberts says deserves recognition.

However, Mr Roberts also said he wanted to add: “At times they don’t have enough resources.”

Operation Calafat

On 18 May North Wales Police issued a statement saying that nine people had been charged following a spate of burglaries in Gwynedd.

All of them live in the Shropshire and West Midlands area of England and will appear at Llandudno Magistrates Court on 1 June.

The force’s Serious Organised Crime Unit and the Rural Crime Team said it worked alongside Dyfed Powys Police and West Mercia Police as part of Operation Calafat.

The investigation came about “following reports of high value agricultural machinery and quad bikes thefts in rural areas including Tywyn, Dolgellau and Bala.”

North Wales Police has named the following eight men and a woman who have been charged with conspiracy to commit burglary with intent to steal, and conspiring to steal.

Wayne Price, 30, of 38 Lower Cross, Cross Houses, Shrewsbury; Nicole Price, 31, of 38 Lower Cross, Cross Houses, Shrewsbury; Dean Rogerson, 32, of Shadwell Quarry, Farley Road, Much Wenlock; Neil Shevlin, 30, of The Four Winds, Bridgnorth Road, Shifnal, Shropshire; Ryan Taylor, 30, of 30 Hayward Parade, Wombridge, Telford; Nial Lloyd, 25, of 28 Windsor Crescent, Broseley; Glenn Beresford, 20, of 9 Worcester Road, Netherto; Brad Skidmore, 18, of 12 Withymoor Road, Stourbridge and Liam Griffiths, 31, of 127 Swan Street, Pensnett, will all appear at Llandudno Magistrates Court on 1st June 2023.

Operation Blue Vision

On 15 March North Wales Police said: “A joint operation targeting cross border criminals in rural communities took place last night following a spate of recent thefts from vehicles.”

Operation Blue Vision saw the force working alongside other police forces after crooks had targeted rural border areas.

Sergeant Pete Evans of the North Wales Police Rural Crime Team said: “Operation Blue Vision was a chance to highlight the work that goes on to tackle cross-border criminality.”

“A number of stop checks were made on vehicles capable of carrying tools and equipment travelling in areas of Wrexham Rural, Chirk, Oswestry and Welshpool in a bid to disrupt criminals using the borders to commit crime.”

In December 2022 North Wales Police appealed for witnesses after a herd of 14 cows were stolen from a farm in Llanerchymedd, Anglesey.

Police said there was damage to the hedgerow and grass verges on the narrow road leading up to the farm that could only have been caused by a large livestock lorry. CCTV footage showed that a lorry was in the area shortly before midnight.

Four months later a man was arrested and the cows – valued at £20,000 – were found almost 130 miles away in Stoke-on-Trent in England.

Rural crime

Countryside Alliance Wales which campaigns on rural issues conducted a rural crime survey in 2022.

Director Rachel Evans said she welcomed the recent arrests made because it sends a clear message that Wales will not be made a soft target for criminals.

She said: “A staggering 92% of respondents from Wales who participated in the survey think crime is significant in their community with 64% saying that crime had increased in the last 12 months.

“Furthermore, 48% of those asked have had a crime committed against them in the last twelve months with trespass and theft from farm buildings coming in at the top of the list. Respondents called for greater action to prevent and detect crimes such as livestock rustling, theft of agricultural machinery and fly tipping.”

Mrs Evans added: “More, obviously, needs to be done.”

56% of people from Wales who responded to their survey don’t think that the police take rural crime seriously. At the time of surveying, 89% of those questioned said that they have not seen any officers in their local area in the last seven days.

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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 year ago

Ahhhh yes, the boarder with England, the real border I would happily see there be greater control over……

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

It’s not just sheep rustlers but the ‘linked-in’ smooth talkers in suits too, and that is where the lack of ‘due diligence’ is most costly for us…

Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
1 year ago

This is similar to the experience in Ireland where a network of new fast roads have facilitated crime in rural areas. Typically remote houses are held by a team of criminals. They then speed back to Dublin with their loot. Possibly their experience could be drawn on to give some suggestions as to effective approaches.

1 year ago

Let farmers dish out their own kind of rough justice to any criminal caught in possession. Old Bill spend too much time watching porn on their phones and sympathising with “socially disadvantaged” thieves.

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