Police warn gangs use drones to scope out farms after West Lothian quad bike drama

Hi-tech crooks have turned to the eye-in-the-skye to scope remote farms before targeting valuable equipment.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 7:42 pm
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 7:43 pm

Aerial footage captured by cameras on drones give organised crime gangs a bird’s eye view of their targets - revealing the presence of alarms, livestock, guard dogs and security precautions.

Inspector Alan Dron, Police Scotland’s rural crime co-ordinator, said that stolen agricultural machinery was being used to target ATMs and other high-value vehicles were turning up in former Eastern Bloc countries. There is also a thriving underworld market in quad bikes and high-quality trailers.

Ins Dron said: “Farmers should be aware that drones are used to scope out access and egress, where security cameras are and what kind of activity there is at a farm.

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Crooks have turned to technology to beat security in the countryside. Picture: Josh Sorenson, Creative Commons

“The key thing is to encourage folk to tell us that something has happened. Only about a third of rural crime in the UK is reported to the police.”

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Potentially dangerous

The Times reports that a family of farmers from West Lothian targeted by a gang used a quad bike’s tracker device to recover it.

One of the farmers, who asked not to be named, said: “We followed the tracker, which took us to Camilty Woods south of Harburn, near West Calder.

“Driving down the forestry trail, we soon realised there was a site with numerous caravans. We went to look for the quad bike, which we found hidden in some trees a few hundred yards from the site.

“On one hand we wanted to leave, due to the potentially dangerous situation we were in,” he said. “But on the other, we were aware that this would probably be our only chance to get the quad bike back. We waited for around an hour in case the police could respond, but no luck.

“In that time there were numerous cars going in and out of the site and a lot of activity. We decided to take the quad bike. Luckily we got away without any confrontation. Farmers are being robbed frequently irrespective of security measures.”