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Fighting allotment crime in Ferryhill and surrounding villages
POLICE and gardeners are fighting crime with a new security scheme that aims to stop would-be thieves from targeting their allotment.
Hundreds of plot holders in Ferryhill, Chilton, Bishop Middleham and West Cornforth will mark property with a colour-coded system that ties it the owner’s site.
The branding will make stolen equipment more easily identifiable, hopefully deterring criminals and helping police to trace recovered stolen property back to a crime and reunite it with its rightful owners.
Police got around £3,000 from the 4 Together Area Action Partnership (AAP) to fund the Smart scheme, which was devised because allotments are often seen as an easy target for criminal activity.
Under the initiative, 19 allotment sites will be allocated a colour and all gardeners will be urged to spray their equipment in that identifying colour.
The AAP grant will pay for durable paint to be supplied to gardeners and for signage at each site, to warn off potential thieves and remind plot holders to protect their property.
High value items will also be covertly marked with Smartwater, a colourless forensic solution with a unique DNA pattern which is registered on a database.
It can be detected under ultra violet light and used to identify stolen property. Allotment holders can also join a police messaging system, which is already used alongside Neighbourhood Watch schemes in County Durham, to stay informed about criminal activity.
Police community liaison officer, Neil Langthorne, said: “‘We welcome the support of the AAP in helping us to target-harden allotments and look forward to working closer with allotment holders to combat crime. “Allotments can be seen as an easy target, they often don’t have physical security in place such as adequate fencing.
“Whilst allotment crime may seem relatively minor, many allotment holders take great pride in their garden and spend a lot of hours looking after their plot so it is soul destroying when they find they have been a victim of crime.”
Gillian Fortune, chairman of the 4 Together Area Action Partnership, said: “This demonstrates how by bringing the right people together with local knowledge, AAP funding can be used effectively to provide practical solutions to community problems.”
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