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Rural crime

Incidents and reports of rural crime are on the increase - keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and report it as soon as possible.

We urge people living, working and playing in Surrey’s villages and countryside to be extra vigilant, keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and report it as soon as possible.

Join Country Watch

Country Watch is a Surrey Police message alert system helping rural communities to prevent, disrupt and detect criminal activity. The scheme, which is free to join, is publicised through warning signs displayed around the rural community, which in itself provides a deterrent to some criminals. For further details contact your local Safer Neighbourhood Team.

Reporting crime or suspicious activity

Report as soon as possible with as much detail as you can provide

If possible, make a note of the following:

    • Is the suspect alone or in a group?
    • Are they trespassing?
    • Do they have equipment, dogs or firearms with them?
    • Are you aware of where suspects have been or where they are heading?
    • What do they look like?
    • Have they any vehicles? What are the number plates and vehicle models?
    • Can you safely get a photograph?

 

Call 101 to report crime, or dial 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress.

Security

  • Fit good quality British Standard deadlocks to all external doors
  • Use good quality window locks
  • Keep windows and door frames in good repair
  • Always lock windows and doors when not in use.
  • Install dusk-to-dawn exterior security lighting
  • When away from home, make different rooms seem occupied by using timer switches and lights set to come on at staggered intervals.

 

  • Install an audible, monitored intruder alarm system
  • Consider CCTV covering vulnerable areas on your property
  • Seek comprehensive advice from a reputable security company that conforms to standards set by the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and/or the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB).

 

 

  • Fit good quality doors and window locks that comply with British Standards
  • Use good quality locking bars and robust padlocks
  • Protect windows with metal bars or grilles, or consider blocking them up
  • Shut and lock all doors and windows when not in use.

 

 

  • Examine your property’s perimeter for potential security breaches
  • Plant thorn hedging as a natural boundary
  • Restrict vehicle access by digging deep ditches
  • Consider installing an infra-red, intercom or keypad entry control system
  • Remove all unused private access points and, if possible, establish a single gated access way
  • Use locking posts or temporary obstructions to control large openings
  • Invert and cap gate hinges
  • Make sure fixing bolts are secure and use covered padlocks
  • Install warning signage.

Improving boundary security will restrict opportunities for illegal off-roading and trespassing. It may also deter illegal occupation (a landowner can initiate County Court proceedings towards evicting illegal occupants) or fly-tipping (quickly remove evidence of fly-tipping to deter further offences).

  • Dispose of refuse regularly and safely
  • Remove hay and straw from fields as soon as possible after harvesting and do not store it alongside other materials/vehicles
  • Store petrol, diesel and other fuels in secure areas and always padlock storage tank outlets
  • Seek further advice from your Fire Officer.

 

  • Do not leave vehicles in a prominent visible place
  • Lock any vehicle or plant equipment kept outside and keep the keys in a safe
  • Consider using hitch locks, wheel clamps or ground anchors.

 

 

  • Mark all your vehicles, machinery, tools and other equipment using an ultraviolet pen, etching or DNA products
  • Include your postcode and property name or number
  • Record serial, chassis and model numbers
  • Photograph each item
  • Consider fitting a tracking device or a data tagging chip.

 

  • Store diesel in a secure fuel tank within a spill containment bund and use good quality locks
  • Avoid installing a storage tank in an isolated area or outlying building
  • Consider using a mobile bowser kept in a secure place when not in use
  • Use ‘diesel dye’, making your diesel traceable and less attractive to thieves.
  • Secure tack room windows on the inside with solid iron bars (not tubular steel)
  • Secure all doors with good quality locks. Use bolts (not screws) on the hinges
  • Mark your tack using an ultraviolet pen
  • Display warning signage to deter thieves
  • Padlock gates with substantial padlocks and heavy duty chains
  • Reverse top hinges on gates to prevent lifting
  • Install security lights and an intruder alarm.

It is an offence to infringe the strict regulations for safe storage and use of firearms. For further advice, see our firearms licensing information.

 

  • Store fertilisers in a dedicated locked building or compound. Do not leave them on public view
  • Do not sell fertiliser unless you know the potential purchaser to be a legitimate user
  • Record all deliveries and usage and carry out regular stock taking
  • Record manufacturers’ code numbers and detonation resistance test certificates -  you may be required to present them
  • Always report a stock discrepancy or loss immediately
  • The Health & Safety Executive can provide further advice on storage/transportation of fertilisers, particularly ammonium nitrate.

 

Any theft, criminal damage or unauthorised work on a scheduled monument should be reported to English Heritage on 0870 333 1181.

Animal Security

Tell the RSPCA (0300 1234 999) immediately about suspected mistreatment of a wild or domestic animal. Report any suspicious activity involving livestock to the police. If livestock is making more noise than usual – check if anyone is in the field or has disturbed the animals. Use ear-tags, horn brands, freeze marking or tattooing to make animals easily identifiable.

View the Hunting Act 2004

Surrey is a rural county and hunt events are common throughout the hunting season. Where appropriate police will attend events and our prime responsibility is the protection of life and property, and the maintenance of order.

The duty of the police is to uphold the law impartially without favour to one group or another. This may include, for example, the investigation of alleged offences under the Act or it may include the facilitation of an event or lawful protest.

Where there are allegations of offences in breach of the Hunting Act or indeed public order, they will be investigated based on, the seriousness of offences; what is proportionate, lawful, appropriate, necessary and practicable; resources available and police powers. In order to conduct an investigation any evidence should be made available to investigators.

Crimes against protected species include:

  • Killing or taking them from the wild
  • Taxidermy offences
  • Taking eggs or skins for personal collections or trade
  • Destroying nests and breeding sites, bat roosts and other protected habitats.

Who to contact if you think an offence has been or is about to be committed:

Species such as badgers and deer are protected by legislation making it an offence to cause them unnecessary suffering. Anyone pursuing a wild mammal with a dog (whether or not in their direct control) is committing an offence under the Hunting Act 2004. It is an offence to hunt with a dog unless conforming to closely defined exemptions. If you suspect a hunter(s) of pursuing a live animal, report it to us. Do not approach participants.

Hare coursing usually occurs after harvest time, (late-August/early-September) when large tracts of land are crop-less. An event will most likely take place at dawn or dusk. An obvious sign is a group of vehicles parked in a rural area, perhaps by a farmland gateway, on a grass verge, track or bridle path. There will usually be estate cars, four-wheel drives or vans containing evidence of dogs. Coursers often travel in convoy with minders’ vans front and rear. If you witness hare coursing, contact the police immediately. Do not approach participants.

Poaching (hunting or fishing) is illegal if the:

  • Game or fish is not in season
  • Perpetrator does not hold a license
  • Hunter used an illegal weapon for a particular animal
  • Animal or plant is on restricted land
  • Right to hunt a particular animal is claimed by someone else
  • Means used are illegal (e.g. baiting)
  • Animal or fish is protected by law or is an endangered species.

Remember: a horse passport is a legal requirement. Freeze-mark or microchip horse(s) for visible and permanent identification purposes. Photograph horses in colour, winter and summer, from both sides, head on and tail on. Include close-ups of ‘chestnuts’, distinctive marking or scarring. Use easily understandable terminology when reporting a horse related incident. For information about the Surrey Police saddle marking scheme, contact your Safer Neighbourhood Team.