POLICE tackling rural crime are hunting the owners of a vehicle who fled from officers during a Farm Watch scheme in Teesdale.

Durham Police hosted its biggest Farm Watch operation last night (Tuesday, February 19), covering 4,000 square miles of country.

More than 90 police officers drawn from Northumbria, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Cleveland plus 150 volunteers took part in the exercise.

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The scheme sought to tackle criminals travelling across county borders to commit crimes.

In Teesdale unknown males fled from the police as officers tried to check a car between Cockfield and Butterknowle.

The Farm Watch team though found four large plastic drums similar to those used in the theft of diesel abandoned by the vehicle’s owners.

The owner of the car was traced to Shildon, County Durham, and his house was searched by the police.

No-one was traced in the search and enquiries are on-going to find the suspects.

A large number of vehicles were stopped and checked but the police reported little activity across most of the area.

Sergeant Stuart Grainger, of Leyburn and Dales Policing Team, said: “This was another great example of joined up working between forces giving us a rural coverage of nearly 4,000 square miles.

“Added to that is the tremendous support we receive from the Farm Watch groups, for which we are very grateful.”

The Farmwatch scheme covering the Wear and Tees area has 850 members.

Details on joining the scheme can be obtained by contacting PCSO Anne Danby, at Barnard Castle Police Office, or rural crime officer Kevin Hall, at Aykley Heads, on 101.

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