Northumbria: Machinery marked with DNA codes to fight against rural crime

More than £200,000 worth of agricultural machinery, tools and equipment have been marked with forensic DNA codes as part of Northumbria’s fight against rural crime.

Farmers and rural communities are being invited to book a slot at the next machinery and equipment DNA tagging event which will be held on September 18 in Lucker.

The Northumberland Partnership Against Rural Crime (NPARC), which was launched in December 2022, recently teamed up with both NFU Mutual and SelectaDNA to mark the machinery to prevent theft.

The invisible code helps police easily spot stolen property that thieves may be attempting to sell on and quickly identify rightful owners.

Officers are now urging more farmers and rural communities to come forward and await the further tagging event later this month.

Sgt Calum Meikle, of Northumbria Police, said: “We have been delighted with the early response to these events and it’s great that a large amount of rural equipment has already been forensically marked.

“This technology is a significant step in our ongoing battle against rural crime – and I’d encourage anyone from our rural communities who has yet to do so to come along.

“The free events provide a great opportunity for farmers and owners to bring ATVs, quad bikes, trailers and any other valuable equipment that could be the target of thieves.

“We can then mark their equipment with a specialist unique invisible code which will help us identify any stolen property, take robust action against thieves and return those goods to their rightful owners.”

rural crime

Meikle said the DNA code marking is just one of the ways Northumbria Police is disrupting rural crime in the area.

“We want to make sure Northumbria stays at the forefront of tackling rural crime – and that’s exactly what we want to achieve through NPARC and the various operations that we run across Northumberland, including Operation Checkpoint,” he said.

“This work would not be possible without the invaluable contributions of our rural crime volunteers and partners – who are our eyes and ears out in the community. I would like to thank them for their amazing ongoing support and dedication.”

NPARC is a partnership involving various organizations including Northumbria Police’s Rural Policing Team, the National Farmers Union (NFU), NFU Mutual, Northumberland County Council, Northumberland National Park, Mountain Rescue, Forestry England and Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service.

rural crime

Northumbria Police’s crime commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “There’s been a great response to this initiative to get agricultural equipment marked up.

“Local people in our rural communities are always fantastic at doing their bit to support Northumbria Police in the fight against rural crime.

“From our committed volunteers to the professional NPARC partnership I’ve funded, there is a really joined up effort in wanting to catch criminals, stop them in their tracks and make it really difficult for them to operate in our region.”

McGuinness said the more difficult it becomes for criminals to steal, the more crime rates will fall.

“I hope this and all the other robust operations and prevention initiatives make clear just how important our rural communities are to Northumbria Police and I,” she said.

Rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, Hannah Binns, said the rural insurer knows that the theft of agricultural vehicles and equipment is “incredibly disruptive” and causes pressures for farmers and their families.

“Combined with good farmyard security and effective policing, property marking is one of the best tools in the toolbox and we’re pleased to support this marking initiative to make it harder for criminals to operate in the countryside,” she said.


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