FARMING bodies have criticised a caution given to a man and woman caught with stolen batteries fitted with a tracker.
Suffolk and Norfolk police praised a farmer for fitting the trackers to irrigator batteries stolen from his farm at Cranwich near Methwold on Friday because the devices led them to a man and woman in a vehicle in Beck Row within hours.
But the pair were released with a caution.
Tony Bone, a director of Farm Watch in Norfolk who knows the farmer, said: “When they get somebody dead to right it beggars belief they just caution them. What message does that send out to people out there stealing things? It’s no deterrent.
“Because there is so much farm theft, a lot of these farmers are carrying huge insurance excesses. Some are talking about £10,000 so when it’s a £200 battery, they can’t claim.”
He said the farmer concerned, who did not want to be interviewed, had suffered numerous thefts of equipment and fuel.
Mr Bone added: “He said the police on the day couldn’t have done a better job, it’s just that when it came to decision time, they wouldn’t take it further.”
The National Farmers’ Union eastern region said: “It’s difficult to comment without knowing full details but we have asked the police why a caution was used.
“The farmer has done the right thing by protecting his equipment, the police have acted quickly, yet no one has gone to court.
“Farmers would expect to see tougher penalties.”
A police spokesman said: “When issuing a caution, the custody supervisor will decide whether it is the most appropriate outcome. Officers take into account a number of factors including what the offence is, admission of offending, any previous offending and the age of the offender.
“Any caution will be taken into account if an offender is charged with another offence, and a victim may still take civil action against the offender.”