“Do not underestimate the impact hay stack fires can have on victims”
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Leicestershire Police has seen a spate of hay stack fires across the Harborough District over the past six months.
Farms across the Welland Valley area have fallen victim to arson attacks on their hay stacks, a crime that has huge financial implications for the farmers and the wider rural community.
PC Steve Winn is one of the force’s rural crime officers for the Harborough and Wigston Neighbourhood Policing Area (NPA).
Working in partnership with Northamptonshire Police, the NFU (National Farmers Union) and Leicestershire and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, PC Winn has been investigating the arson attacks. He said: “Since June, we have seen a number of hay stack fires across the Welland Valley area which we believe have been started deliberately. Some of these incidents have been across the border into Northamptonshire so we’re working closely with our neighbouring colleagues as enquiries continue.
“Hay is the life blood of a farm, it’s what feeds the animals. A hay stack can be worth in excess of £40,000 so losing this has a huge impact on the farmers. This year has seen a poor harvest so hay is already in short supply, pushing the prices up and making it even harder for farmers to replace what they have lost. In some cases the farmers have no choice but to reduce the size of their livestock, something that has long term, financial consequences on the farm. Do not underestimate the impact these attacks can have on victims.”
Officers across the Harborough District are asking for the public’s help to find who is responsible for the arson attacks. PC Steve Winn explains what signs people should be looking out for:
- the crimes are happening overnight, do you know someone who is acting strangely, perhaps going out late at night and returning in the early hours?
- are they returning home smelling heavily of smoke?
- have you noticed anyone carrying items associated with fire? For example, petrol cans, rags, accelerants, lighters, etc.
PC Winn adds: “We need the community to come together and tell us what they know. If you see any person or vehicles acting suspiciously, please tell us.”
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or by reporting online. You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously without having to give your name. Crimestoppers are offering a £1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the arson attacks. Information must be given directly to Crimestoppers.
**This reward is being offered by the independent charity Crimestoppers and only information given to Crimestoppers will be eligible for the reward **
**Those who contact Crimestoppers can give their information completely anonymously and this can be done by their secure online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling the Crimestoppers UK Contact Centre freephone number of 0800 555 111 which is open 24/7.**