POLICE are getting tough on thieves who use Dartmoor as their location of choice for committing crime.
Police are about to relaunch their successful Moorwatch campaign to crack down on those who use the remoteness of the moor to break the law.
Police, with partner agencies, are urging residents to play their part and be vigilant.
The campaign was originally set up to tackle vehicle crime on the moor during the peak tourist months.
This year it has been expanded to incorporate other crimes.
During the last 12 months there has been a marked increase in burglaries from garden sheds and outbuildings.
Most have been committed at night and police believe those responsible have used a vehicle to make a quick getaway with the loot.
Police are urging residents, particularly those in the Chagford and Moretonhampstead areas, to be particularly vigilant and to make sure all outbuildings are properly secured and property is security marked.
Sergeant Fran Bennett, crime reduction officer for the Teignbridge area, is working on the campaign.
She said: "Although crime on the moorland area is relatively low in comparison to other parts of the country, the types of crime are very specific.
"Tourists flock to the area every year, and are vulnerable to car crime, as they often leave their vehicles in remote spots.
"We want to educate as well as enforce and will be working with partner agencies to do so.
"Vehicle crime isn't the only problem. The moor suffers from other crimes such as theft from outbuildings. Farming equipment is very valuable and is sought after by thieves as there is a ready black market.
"Property which is particularly vulnerable are quad bikes, ride-on mowers, expensive gardening equipment and horse tack.
"We urge all of the farming community to be particularly vigilant and to ensure all machinery and vehicles are secure when not being used.
"We are determined to keep Dartmoor the beautiful low-crime area that it always has been for residents and visitors.
"This is why the agencies are working together to keep a watchful eye over the moor."
Other agencies involved in Moorwatch are the Dartmoor National Park Authority, and the farming groups such as the Dartmoor Partnership and the Dartmoor Commoners Association.
Sgt Bennett added: "Much of the policing will be driven by the neighbourhood teams who will be supported by their patrol colleagues.
"We will be making sure drivers keep to the speed limits as well as using the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system to detect and deter known criminals."
(Reproduced from The South Devon Herald Express, March 22nd)
Gardien Tip: The security of sheds and outbuildings needs consideration. Free advice can be found at http://www.garden-security.co.uk/shed-security-print.htm