A new campaign is encouraging people to report instances of rural crime ahead of an anticipated spike in incidents as Covid-19 lockdown measures begin to ease.
The campaign, led by independent charity Crimestoppers in partnership with Network Rail, Police Scotland and rural organisations, encourages people to report those who are causing harm to the countryside.
People are asked to look out for signs of rural crime and to report them anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Crimestoppers said estimates from rural insurer NFU Mutual suggest rural crime is costing Scotland around £1.8 million every year, and crimes include house-breaking, farm equipment theft, livestock theft and attacks, hare coursing and fly-tipping.
“Many of us will be impatient to get back to nature and enjoy the stunning scenery Scotland has to offer,” said Angela Parker, national manager for Crimestoppers in Scotland.
“Our campaign is encouraging the public to be aware of the harm rural crime and anti-social behaviour can inflict on the environment and the economy, from heritage crime, to wilful fire-raising and theft, these crimes often go unreported and can ruin lives, livelihoods and the rural environment.”
Inspector Alan Dron, rural and acquisitive crime co-ordinator for Police Scotland, welcomed the campaign and encouraged people to get involved.
He said: “The majority of individuals wanting to experience Scotland’s stunning cultural, historic and natural environments have a desire to do so responsibly and in accordance with the law.
“Unfortunately the consequences of a rural incident or crime often has a deeper and far reaching impact plus access rights are not an excuse for anti-social or illegal behaviour.”
Insp Dron added: Please respect our rural communities and countryside, leave no trace of your visit and don’t let any individuals spoil your experience.”
More details about Crimestoppers is online at crimestoppers-uk.org