Concerns over a recent upsurge in rural crime were raised at a meeting between police and an Ulster Unionist Party delegation,
Representatives from the Newry & Armagh constituency requested the meeting following a recent series of incidents which included an armed robbery and thefts of vehicles, livestock and agricultural machinery.
In one incident, a New Holland tractor of great sentimental value was stolen in the Poyntzpass area. It had belonged to the family’s son, who died in tragic circumstances a number of years ago.
It was found last week in the Crossmaglen area, after police received a call from a member of the public.
And in the Redrock area of Markethill a month ago, 17-year-old Chloe Hawthorne underwent a terrifying ordeal when armed men forced their way into her home and stole her car at gunpoint.
The men also crashed into another vehicle nearby, injuring the driver. The teenager’s car was returned to her last week.
Livestock stolen included cattle taken from Hamiltonsbawn, while a Tandragee farmer had sheep stolen for the second time in two months.
The meeting was attended by Newry & Armagh Assembly member Danny Kennedy, Alderman Jim Speers and Councillor David Taylor who told the police that extra resources were needed urgently.
Mr Kennedy said, “We pressed for an immediate response to be provided from the police to allay the very genuine concerns existing within the rural community regarding the upsurge in crime.”
He said police had indicated they were planning a number of initiatives. “We were pleased to learn from the senior commanders that additional operations are to be put in place locally by the PSNI to tackle the current upsurge in criminals activity in the area,” he said.
“We would also encourage rural dwellers and those involved in the agricultural sector to co-operate with the police and take precautionary measures to help protect their machinery and livestock wherever possible”.
Alderman Jim Speers said the level of criminal activity was extremely worrying and urged the PSNI to halt the activities of those criminal gangs operating in the area.