Farmers and rural householders in Dumfriesshire are being urged by police to put a higher priority on their security as thieves are moving increasingly into the countryside.
Officers are working to raise awareness among home owners, farmers and other landholders of ways to protect themselves from growing crime, including using SmartWater on their property.
Tens of thousands of pounds worth of items have been snatched from farms and country houses, including quad bikes, farm equipment, diesel and fuel oil and even farm gates.
Police said criminal gangs were being driven away from higher population centres by ever-improving security measures and were seeing rural properties as easier targets.
Farmers and home-owners in the Stewartry, Wigtown and Nithsdale areas are the focus of an initiative that is spreading crime prevention advice, encouraging membership of Farm Watch schemes and promoting uptake of a service that alerts farmers by text message when criminals are known to be in their area.
Crime prevention officer, Constable Simon Kennedy, is urging residents and businesses to mark every piece of equipment and portable property with SmartWater, a clear, forensically-coded solution that is simple to apply. Each batch has a unique signature that police can use to link an item to a crime scene and trace the true owner of the item.
Constable Kennedy told the Moffat News newspaper: “Once applied SmartWater is virtually impossible to remove and can withstand burning, sand blasting and long term exposure to UV.
“When we find items which are marked, we can return them to their owners for each has a special mark which will identify it. We can’t return them if we don’t know where they came from.”
Soon every police patrol car in the area will be equipped with an ultraviolet light, allowing officers to quickly check for the presence of SmartWater on property found in the possession of suspects.