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A combination of dark nights and economic uncertainty becomes a recipe for an increase in rural crime, according to a South East rural watchdog. Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Regional Director Robin Edwards said: "Each year we seem to experience an increase in crime in the countryside almost as soon as the clocks go back. This year, with the potential catalysts of a fragile economy and belt-tightening, experience sadly suggests that we could see a swell of criminal offences – from fly-tipping to burglary."

In light of this the CLA has been supporting an initiative offering farmers and landowners in Hampshire the opportunity to have their machinery and equipment protected by the UK's only official ACPO approved marking scheme for agricultural machinery called the CESAR scheme, supported by Hampshire Constabulary and three Hampshire Councils.

The CESAR scheme not only helps recover stolen equipment but also acts as a powerful deterrent against theft after becoming a well-recognised brand for thieves to stay clear of.

PCSOs Patricia Gibbs and Melissa Rowell have been instrumental in securing funding of £1,000 from the three separate Hampshire districts, East Hants, Hart and Rushmore and Winchester. With a limit of two subsidised fittings per eligible customer this funding meant that the CESAR fitting cost only £60 instead of the normal £150.

On 26th November Will Dobson from Hill Place met with Datatag approved technician Tim Hollamby at his house in South Hampshire who fitted CESAR devices to his lawn mower and quad-bike.

Mr Dobson said: "Rural areas present the greatest opportunity for thieves. Isolated houses and buildings, less illumination, fewer witnesses and the ease of spotting the owner's movements all add up to an attractive target for thieves, so as farmers we need to be prepared and be aware."

Mr Hollamby said: "Responsibility can't be left to a barking farm dog. Many farmers wait for a crime to happen before they consider preventative action but we encourage business owners to take action and secure their valuable machinery before a crime occurs."

The CESAR security system, fitted to each machine, is made up of multiple components including tamper-evident labels, RFID tags, forensic DNA and microscopic Datadots. CESAR gives each piece of equipment a unique 'fingerprint' that thieves simply cannot remove. We also encourage rural landowners to take simple steps such as installing security lights and not leaving tools around or keys in vehicles, to ensure that properties are less of a target.

"Have a look around your premises now, and try to do so with a thief's eye, looking for weak spots and 'safe' areas in permanent darkness. If you feel you would benefit from further help, contact the Crime Prevention Officer at your local police station or visit the Datatag website.

Date Created: 10/12/2012

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