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Animal cruelty and car thefts investigated during Rural Crime Week

Stolen and untaxed vehicles, catapults and ball bearings, dogs and Roman coins were just some of the items seized by officers during the county's official Rural Crime Week.

Incidents of animal cruelty - such as badger baiting and hare coursing - were also dealt with, as were cases of night hawking and fly tipping.

The ball bearings, knives and catapults seized by police (19454414)
The ball bearings, knives and catapults seized by police (19454414)

The investigations were led by Kent Police's Rural Task Force, who teamed up with local councils and the RSPCA for the week, which ran from Monday, October 6 to last Sunday.

On their first day, officers pulled over a Ford Transit in Strood, which they found to not only be involved in fly tipping offences but also had false plates and had been stolen from London.

The vehicle was one of five seized that day by officers, all suspected of fly tipping.

On the same evening a vehicle in Doddington, near Faversham, was stopped and a search revealed it contained catapults, ball bearings and knives.

Officers believed the items may have been used in connection with poaching offences.

They will now all be destroyed.

The roman coins taken during an incidnet of night hawking (19454416)
The roman coins taken during an incidnet of night hawking (19454416)

Officers attended a report of sheep worrying in Sevenoaks the following day, where the farmer had managed to catch the dog chasing his sheep.

The team are now working with the farmer and the dog’s owner to ensure that the relevant vet bill is covered.

On Wednesday officers joined up with the RSPCA on three warrants in relation to an investigation into badger cruelty.

A number of dogs were seized from addresses in Ashford, Maidstone and New Romney and the RSPCA investigation is ongoing.

Three men were also stopped on suspicion of hare coursing - the pursuit of hares with greyhounds or other dogs - in Chillenden, a village between Canterbury and Deal.

Their vehicle, a white Ford Transit, was not taxed and was seized by officers.

During another incident in Doddington, officers stopped a vehicle on the A2 after the driver had been using a metal detector without permission from the landowner.

PC Darren Walshaw
PC Darren Walshaw

The man, from Gillingham, had found several Roman coins and the artefacts were seized by the team.

In addition to the successful stop checks, two stolen vehicles, a Landrover 90 and a quad bike will now be reunited with their rightful owners after being located by the force.

Sgt Darren Walshaw, from the Rural Task Force, said: "The team had a number of busy shifts during rural crime week, but it was very much business as usual.

"They are out on patrol every day in the rural areas of Kent to target and disrupt criminal activity.

"People who live in rural communities often feel isolated and vulnerable and those involved in rural crime rely on the threats and intimidation for their actions not to be reported to the police.

"However we remain committed to working with rural communities to make them feel safer and actively clamp down on the criminals who target them.

"Poaching and illegal hare coursing may not appear to be serious offences on the surface but often those involved in this are part of organised criminal networks.

"They cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to land, property and often use vehicles that are stolen or untaxed not to mention the cruelty they inflict on animals."

The special week came after Kent was revealed to be hit worse by rural crime than anywhere in the UK.

It cost the county around £2,659,000 last year.

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