Call for police to get tough on rural crime

Ballyclare man Mark Wilson with the Yamaha quad bike that was stolen from his Braepark Road home in 2009. He got the vehicle back more than a year later after spotting it for sale on an internet auction site. INNT 05-500CON
Ballyclare man Mark Wilson with the Yamaha quad bike that was stolen from his Braepark Road home in 2009. He got the vehicle back more than a year later after spotting it for sale on an internet auction site. INNT 05-500CON

A BALLYCLARE man has hit out at the PSNI over its handling of an investigation into the theft of an expensive quad bike from his family’s farm.

Mark Wilson, from Braepark Road, spoke out this week after a leading insurance company revealed that organised crime, including the theft of quad bikes and other vehicles, has cost Ulster farmers more than £11 million in the last three years.

Mark revealed how his Yamaha Raptor road bike, worth around £6,500, was stolen in March 2009 - one of three quads stolen from the farm in a six-month period.

In June 2010, the eagle-eyed 31-year-old spotted an almost identical bike for sale on an internet auction site. His suspicious were aroused by the poor quality picture of the vehicle, and the fact that there was no contact telephone number listed and no minimum price requested.

Recognising the bike as the one stolen from him more than a year earlier, Mark reported the seller to the police and the quad was later recovered from a property in Dungannon.

However, when he was told by police that that was the end of the matter, Mark made a complaint and demanded that officers carry out a proper investigation into how the man had acquired the vehicle.

One man was eventually brought in for questioning, but it was decided that he had no case to answer.

“The guy said he’d bought it for cash off the travellers. He said he’d paid £400 and given them his old scrambler in exchange for it, but he was buying a vehicle worth over £6,000, there was no tax book for it, no key and it had been hot-wired, so he must’ve known it was stolen,” Mark told the Times.

Angry that no-one had been charged over the theft and attempted sale of the vehicle and that no further action was to be taken, he decided to make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman.

Read the full story in this week’s Times...