Gardai struggle to identify owners of stolen farm gear
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has issued a fresh appeal to the farming community to mark their vehicles and equipment after gardaí warned that they are struggling to identity the owners of stolen goods.
Ms Fitzgerald said she has been informed that there is a cache of farming equipment that has not been reclaimed, some of which has been stolen by burglary gangs.
Speaking to the Farming Independent, Ms Fitzgerald urged the farming community to report all thefts of goods amid suggestions that there is a reluctance to alert gardaí in parts of rural Ireland.
And she said that a new cross-border taskforce, set up following the recent successful Stormont Talks, will have a direct role in combatting the theft of stolen farming equipment and vehicles.
"I would absolutely encourage people to report. I would also encourage the farming community to report. And to make sure the vehicles and machinery are marked.
"And I would say the gardaí have vehicles and equipment that haven't been reclaimed because of difficulty of identification and that," Ms Fitzgerald said.
She said the cross-border taskforce would focus on fuel laundering and on diesel smuggling. "And it will also focus on theft from agriculture as well," the minister said.
Ms Fitzgerald, a TD for Dublin-Mid West, has been accused by Fianna Fáil of being in denial about the rural crime epidemic. She has ruled out calls to reopen some of the rural garda stations whose closures sparked widespread uproar.
But the senior Fine Gael politician insisted the Government has a plan to end the "fear factor" in rural communities.
She said she wants to see greater use of community text alerts and that gardaí will be able to embark on a more stringent programme of curfews and tagging criminals.
She said she has instructed Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan to improve the way in which victims are dealt with.
"I don't just want a letter going out to a victim, I want a follow up so that they are being informed of an investigation.
IFA national chairman Jer Bergin said rural crime and farm theft is a major concern and the IFA has developed TheftStop.ie with gardaí to both help deter criminals and help recover stolen machinery.
It allows users to mark machinery and other equipment with a unique ID and to register their equipment on an online database.
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