Police deployed a stinger to bring a suspicious vehicle to a stop in the Yorkshire Dales – after vigilant rural residents helped officers to track it down.
At 1am today, Monday 17 August 2020, North Yorkshire Police received a call about men in a white Ford Transit van behaving suspiciously, possibly involved in rural crime, in the Threshfield area, north of Skipton.
As police officers made towards the area, they shared a description of the vehicle on a WhatsApp group used by the force’s Rural Watch volunteers.
Further sightings were called in, helping officers trace the Transit van to Kirkby Malham, ten miles away. It continued towards Eshton, where an officer from North Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Group was able to deploy a stinger and bring it to a halt.
A search of the van located a crowbar, a baseball bat and a knife inside. These items were seized, and the two occupants of the van arrested.
The two men, aged 28 and 17, were both arrested on suspicion of going equipped for theft, and possessing an offensive weapon. They were taken to custody, and subsequently released under investigation while enquiries continue.
It’s not the first time the local Rural Watch group has been instrumental in locating vehicles in suspicious circumstances in the Craven area. In a separate incident on 23 July 2020, two men were spotted on land near Appletreewick by group members. Officers attended and seized a dead hare and battery-powered red lamps. Both men were reported for summons for poaching.
Rural Watch groups are made up of residents, farmers, landowners, gamekeepers, rural business and estate owners – in fact, anyone who lives or works in a rural area.
The groups communicate with each other via WhatsApp and phone, supported by North Yorkshire Police’s officers and PCSOs. There are now 25 such groups, representing more than 1,000 vigilant members of the public right across the county.
They support North Yorkshire Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Rural Taskforce, acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police, particularly in remote, rural areas.
Rural Watch volunteers have also been invaluable throughout the coronavirus pandemic, reassuring isolated residents and businesses, and helping officers and PCSOs keep in touch with the rural communities they serve.
To find out more about Rural Watches, or to join a group, contact North Yorkshire Police and speak to your local Neighbourhood Policing Team or Rural Taskforce officer.Last modified: August 17, 2020