On the Beat – Rural areas have their crime hot spots too

Out of control dogs can seriously maim or kill sheep.
Out of control dogs can seriously maim or kill sheep.

In this month’s column I would like to concentrate on rural crime and associated issues, writes Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson.

I have talked on many occasions of the issues around antisocial behaviour and thefts from the towns throughout Midlothian. However, I am aware that the county also has a large farming and village population, which suffer from similar problems.

Over the last few weeks there have been incidents where attempts have been made to break-in to sheds and outhouses and in one incident a car was stolen. I would offer the same advice to farmers and those who live in a rural setting as I give to people in our towns; make sure you have good quality locks on your stores, consider fitting an audible alarm to your shed or garage, which is very effective in scaring off thieves, and always ensure your houses and cars are locked and secure. Unfortunately, even in isolated countryside locations, opportunist thieves will try doors and chance their luck.

Antisocial behaviour is also present in these locations and can be the same problems experienced elsewhere. Local youths often gather and engage in underage drinking in the woods and fields and this can create problems with small fires being set. To that end I would again ask you consider where your children are going at night and what they are getting up to.

A more specific problem of antisocial behaviour is the problems created by dogs in a rural situation. If you are walking your dog, or it is part of your business as a dog walker, it is your responsibility to have full control of your dog at all times.

We are approaching lambing season and an out of control dog can cause serious injury or kill sheep and this can be a very expensive loss to farmers.

Another rural crime we have observed in the region is hare coursing. This involves the hunting of hares with dogs and is seen by those taking part as a form of sport. It is not a sport and is a cruel and barbaric activity. It usually involves someone with a number of lurcher type dogs walking in fields, often in a systematic manner spread out across the field as though they are searching for something.

As ever I would ask for your help in targeting these issues and if you see anything suspicious or anything that can be linked to any of the issues above please contact us on the 101 system or alternatively use the Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.