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New Byth machinery theft highlights growing trend

By David Porter

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Police are appealing for information after the theft of yellow and black JCB standard 8018 mini-digger on Sunday from New Byth.

Between 6pm and 11pm on Sunday April 19 the digger and a galvanised steel plant trailer manufactured by Brian James were removed.

The mini digger is described as being in rusted condition, with two arms – a main boom and a dipper which has a distinctive piece of black rubber attached and with two lights custom fitted to the rear of the roof.

A further four individual lifting buckets for a JCB, secured together with a heavy-duty chain and padlock and a small toothed bucket were also taken.

The plant trailer measures approximately five feet by eight feet with a large ramp at the rear and with an eye-style hitch.

Detective constable Jon Pinder at Fraserburgh CID said: "Door to door enquiries have been carried out and CCTV in the area is being reviewed.

"At this time we are keen to hear from anyone who may have seen a dark coloured Ford Transit style van in the area.

"We have reports of this van, which has a light coloured stripe around it, being seen driving into New Byth around 9.50pm that night, not towing anything, and then again at around 10.16pm, towing a trailer with a mini digger on it, heading north onto the B9027.

"Anyone who may be able to help in this investigation is asked to call us on the 101 number, quoting the reference number 4289 of April 19.

"Likewise we would ask anyone who may have been driving in the New Byth area in a vehicle fitted with a dash-cam to check their footage to see if they may have captured anything which might assist us."

On the wider issue of equipment theft PC Michael Urquhart of north-east division said: "Whilst nationally we are seeing around a 40 per cent reduction in the theft of motor vehicles since the Covid19 lockdown, the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) have identified an upward trend in the theft of agricultural machinery, off roads quads, ATV’s, trailers and plant machinery, with one construction company reporting 50 per cent more thefts recently and a number of forces in the UK reporting an upturn of rural thefts on a community that is increasingly isolated by the current situation.

"With the construction industry winding down, some sites placed on full closure and the farming industry working with reduced numbers of staff and machinery not in use, we are finding organised criminal gangs exploiting the opportunities to steal such equipment.

"A number of UK machines have been identified recently in lorries bound for Eastern Europe, with interceptions of stolen machinery bound for both Bulgaria and Poland.

"The use of low loaders and vans to conceal smaller plant equipment is also prevalent and a common method for the theft of smaller machinery such as mini diggers, dumpers, generators and road rollers."

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