Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Gate thefts put livestock at risk

Farm gate
Farmers say the thefts are putting livestock at risk

Farmers have been warned to be on their guard as scrap metal thieves target large gates in southern Scotland.

Three farms in the Selkirk area of the Borders were struck at the weekend.

Farmers said the thefts were not only costly but also put livestock at risk of being killed if they wandered out onto nearby roads.

The Scottish National Farmers Union said that when the economy was under pressure people needed to guard against "petty, opportunistic crime".

Farmer Patrick Dalton, of Milrig Hall Farm, near Selkirk, had several gates stolen in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He said: "I came down to work on Sunday morning, and saw that a 15ft gate had been stolen from one of the fields.

"I was shocked because the field leads straight onto the main road, and I'd had 15 bullocks in there three days earlier which could have got out onto the road and caused a serious accident.

"We've already had one bullock killed on that road."

Suspicious vehicles

He said he was angered by the "sheer gall and the thoughtlessness" of the crime.

"It's really important for people to be aware of this and to take the number of suspicious vehicles they see," he added.

"The gates are quite heavy so I would guess it would have to be at least two men who stole them."

Nigel Miller, vice-president of the Scottish NFU, said thefts of diesel and quad bikes were generally more common.

He added: "But the reality is that petty, opportunistic crime does rise when the economy's under pressure.

"It is time to be on your guard."

Lothian and Borders Police have appealed for information in connection with the thefts.

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