The son of a Gosberton Risegate farmer hopes “the power of social media” will help catch a gang who broke into his dad’s yard.
Neil Dobney’s idea to put CCTV images of intruders ripping down security cameras installed at Healey and Dobney’s depot in the village has led to hundreds of hits and shares on Facebook.
The images show two people causing about £400 worth of damage to the cameras last week Monday morning, the latest in a series of crimes at the depot where diesel, vehicle batteries and tools have been stolen in recent years.
Neil (37), who runs his own transport firm in Bicker, said: “Ever since I can remember, there have been break-ins here. But when they took down the CCTV cameras, that was the point when I thought ‘enough is enough’.
“I realised that if I could get ten or 20 of my friends to share the CCTV images we managed to get of the people who broke in, that could actually lead to them being identified or someone who knows them.
“I put four pictures on my Facebook page and a brief narrative about cracking rural crime and every single person I know has shared it.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if 100,000 people have had access to the images and I feel as if I got more information in the first 12 hours of it going on Facebook than I had in the last 12 months.”
Neil claimed that at least £2,500 worth of thefts a year have taken place at his dad, Ralph Dobney’s farming firm, despite it having CCTV cameras.
“My dad does what he can but having worked on the farm and a little bit in security before, I know that farmers don’t have the finances to invest in security gates,” Neil said.
“Half the time, it’s not the stuff stolen that’s the problem because it can be replaced.
“It’s the nervousness and constant worry on people’s minds, as well as the hassle of repairing or replacing the cameras.
“It’s seems like rural crime is accepted and I don’t think people should accept it.”
Neil’s Facebook campaign may be abput to have a breakthrough after intruders stole about £4,000 worth of diesel from a petrol station in Moulton Chapel.
CCTV images of two people breaking padlocks off a pump and stealing about 2,700 litres from Moulton Chapel Motors in Roman Road on Wednesday morning have left owner Robert Palmer (50) convinced that the same people were behind the criminal damage in Gosberton Risegate two days earlier.
Robert said: “The cameras on the forecourt were tampered with before they forced the lock on the pump to siphon off the fuel.
“You can’t believe the front of what they will do but when I saw Neil’s pictures on Facebook, the people looked almost identical to the people on our CCTV pictures.”
n Anyone with information on either or both incidents should call 101 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.