According to Northumbria Police, well-organised criminals are targeting rural areas because the 'risk versus reward' is too much in their favour.
The force's message is that everyone has a responsibility to help change this.
Superintendent Andy Huddleston, Northumbria's rural crime lead, said: “We have some amazing rural areas in the North East that offer a great place to work and live and we want to keep it that way. We must continue our efforts to protect and support those communities in the face of determined criminal activity.
“We work closely with rural residents but want to reinforce the message that while we are targeting those responsible for rural crime, we really need the support of local communities – their input can be the biggest advantage we have.”
The drive against rural crime across Northumberland includes regular 'Checkpoint' operations that bring together a range of agencies for dedicated days of action and community meetings with partners that include the NFU, Forestry Commission, National Park, local authorities and the local FarmWatch scheme.
“With such a widespread and often sparsely populated area to cover, successful partnership working is essential,” added Supt. Huddleston. “We are committed to building on these relationships and I would like to thank everyone involved for the excellent support they provide.
“I urge people to report anything suspicious and to speak to us if they have any concerns. We would also like to hear from anyone interested in working with us either as part of our Checkpoint operations or as police volunteer.”
Rural criminals are also targeted as part of the region's crackdown on organised crime, as so often the theft of agricultural machinery is committed by organised criminal gangs.
This activity now falls under a new banner – Operation Sentinel – which brings together Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland Police with the North East Specialist Operations Unit in a combined effort to tackle serious and organised crime.
To report suspicious activity go to the Northumbria Police website, call 101 or anonymously call the NFU CrimeStoppers number on 0800 7830137.