Two men have been charged following a series of high value agri machinery thefts from farms across Somerset last year.
Jeffery Hughes, 44, and Gareth Hayward, 20, were both charged on 30 March with conspiracy to steal in connection with a number of thefts of quad bikes and trailers between 17 June and 12 July 2020.
The pair were additionally charged with the theft of a 4×4 vehicle from a garage in Williton on 3 January 2020.
Individually, Hayward was also charged with theft of an Ifor Williams trailer from a farm in Chilton Polden on 11 July 2020.
Hughes was charged with theft and handling of an Ifor Williams cattle box trailer from a farm in Puckington on 7 June last year.
The two men were bailed and will appear at Taunton Magistrates Court on 29 April 2021.
The charges follow an operation to tackle organised rural crime, led by Sedgemoor Neighbourhood Policing Team and Avon and Somerset’s Rural Affairs Unit.
Somerset Area Commander Mike Prior said the operation had been a 'true partnership of policing activity', resulting in the disruption of serious criminal enterprise.
He added that the partnership had also enabled the recovery of high value stolen property farming equipment.
“My thanks to the Somerset Farm Watch community for being our ‘eyes and ears’, contributing vital intelligence which has played a key role in bringing these offenders to justice,” he said.
The most recent figures available by NFU Mutual show that the cost of rural crime in the UK reached an eight year high in 2019.