South Holland farmer says crooks treat the Fens as their "playground"
A South Holland farmer is appealing to the public to help stop the crooked antics of "clowns" in the countryside.
Hare coursing, thefts of farm machinery and fly-tipping are plaguing land owners.
Hare coursers are double trouble because they often check farms for machinery to steal later.
One farmer told us: "We have got clowns from different parts of the country thinking the Fens are their personal playground."
He is appealing to the public to call the police on 101when they see farm machinery on the road after working hours - say after 6pm/7pm - and also report fly-tipping, giving vehicle registrations when they can, to the council.
The farmer says criminals sometimes use forklifts to rip cashpoints out of shop and bank walls - but they and other expensive items like tractors are often loaded onto lorries, taken to ports and shipped off.
He said: "Organised gangs have curtain sided lorries they can put tractors on and they are on their way within two hours of being stolen."
Farmers are linking up through the messaging service, WhatsApp, to get live updates on hare coursing and other criminal activity.
But the South Holland farmer says the public could be a real help in the fight against rural crime if they report suspicious incidents when they see them.
Waste fly-tipped on roadside verges is cleared at council tax payers' expense but anything dumped on private land is the responsibility of the land owner.
The farmer had two trailer loads of leaves dumped in his farm gateway in the last fortnight.
He said: "Why can't people be bothered to go the tip?"
* Report fly-tipping at www.sholland.gov.uk/reportit
Farmers beseiged by hare coursers are taking drastic steps to deter the crooks ... by shooting the hares on their land.
The farmer told us: "Several farmers I know have taken to trying to kill as many hares as possible to try to deter hare coursing, which I think is a terrible shame.
"I don't have hares shot on this farm."
When hare coursing was legal it was a very different pursuit.
Now hare coursers are intent on a kill, allowing dogs to rip the hares to shreds, and huge sums are reportedly bet.
The farmer told us: "The skill used to be making the hare turn in the field, not killing it.
"I like hares - I like to see hares on the farm."
Lincolnshire saw a sharp drop in hare coursing incidents towards the end of 2017 and in the early part of 2018 and police said their policy of seizing dogs was having a deterrent effect.
But one farmer pointed out that "the real hardcore criminals" are still coming to Lincolnshire.
In March he said: “We have had police cars rammed, they have failed to stop for blue lights and they have driven like lunatics through our towns and villages."