Farmers and the wider rural community are receiving 'Police stop me' stickers as part of a new initiative to help tackle farm machinery theft in Wiltshire.
The 'Police STOP ME between 20:00 - 05:00' stickers are available to apply to agricultural vehicles, trailers and horse boxes.
The stickers ensure that if the machinery is seen on the roads between those hours by police officers who are not already committed to a call, they can stop check the vehicle to ensure it is being used by the rightful owner.
The stickers are based on a similar initiative which has been in operation with 'cash-in-transit' vans for many years and it has been proven to successfully reduce attacks on vehicles from the security trade.
PC Marc Jackson said the initiative is currently being used by other police forces around the UK and is a 'small but effective' tool in the fight against rural crime.
“Anything we can do to work with our communities to help disrupt and prevent rural crime is something we are keen to promote.
“Stickers won't necessarily stop a theft, but they do raise awareness to other members of the public and police officers in regards to farm machinery thefts. This can include quad bikes, ATVs, 4x4 vehicles and as well as vintage tractors,” PC Jackson said.
“We are also asking farmers, small holders and horse owners to ensure that their agricultural vehicles are adequately protected and stored securely.”
He added: “We often find that vehicles are stolen whilst being used, with the keys left in the vehicle when the owner is checking livestock or working around the farm yard.”
NFU's representative for Wiltshire, Andi Witcombe said rural crime is 'one of the most pressing, impactful and devastating issues' farmers are dealing with.
“We have seen some great examples around the country of police forces getting on the front foot with rural policing and the NFU in Wiltshire welcomes the initiative.
“The fact that over two-thirds of farmers and rural businesses have been victims of crime in the past 12 months shows that appropriate action needs to be taken to ensure farmers can do what they do best - producing safe, traceable and affordable food for the nation,” she said.
Any Wiltshire farmers wanting the stickers are told to speak to the local Community Policing Team.