Theft of 12 tractors fuels fears of rural crimewave
Twelve vintage tractors of "great sentimental value" have been stolen from a Co Down farm as rural crime rates continue to soar.
A large amount of farming machinery, including a low-loading trailer and a power washer, was also taken from the property on Killynure Road in Carryduff.
The theft occurred some time between 10am on Wednesday and 4.30pm on Thursday.
Chief Inspector Jonathan Wilson said officers found that entry had been forced to a number of outbuildings.
"Ten of the tractors, which are all of great sentimental value, are Massey Fergusons and all have red bodywork and grey chassis - two of these tractors also have cabs," he added. The remaining two tractors are a blue Dexta and an orange Nuffield Universal."
DUP councillor Nathan Anderson condemned the theft, saying: "This is an utter disgrace, this is someone's cherished collection. My thoughts are with the owners. I hope the criminals will be swiftly brought to justice and the tractors returned."
The incident comes after a report from insurers NFU Mutual revealed that rural crime in Northern Ireland is costing £2.6 million a year, up 5.3% on the previous year.
It also emerged that some farms are being targeted twice, just days apart, with quad bikes, all-terrain-vehicles (ATVs), livestock and tractors high on the criminals' wish-list.
Martin Malone of NFU Mutual said: "A new breed of brazen criminals are targeting the countryside and they are overcoming electronic security measures to steal expensive equipment and vehicles," he added.
Ulster Farmers' Union official James O'Brien said people in rural areas "now feel isolated and vulnerable in their own homes".
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