POLICE in Cleveland are focusing on rural crime throughout National Neighbourhood Watch Week.
The force has been cracking down on rural crime in an ongoing operation with other forces across the north-east.
To mark National Neighbourhood Watch Week (15-21 June), it wants rural and farming communities to join in the fight.
Dedicated rural crime officers are working together with partners to improve the response to rural crime and to identify illegal activity.
People in rural areas are being encouraged to sign up to an information sharing service to help communities keep themselves safe as part of farm and rural watch schemes.
Cleveland Police are taking part in large scale regional operations targeting travelling criminals, illegal hunting activity, fly grazing, heritage site abuse and antisocial use of off-road vehicles.
It said the activities could cause damage to estates, destroy crops and harm livestock.
Improved communication and information sharing with adjacent forces has been implemented to better identify and target travelling criminals and those who engage in illegal activities.
Inspector Dan Maddison said: "Cleveland Police Force area is predominantly urban but contains large areas of rural and farmland bordering North Yorkshire and Durham force areas.
"We are working closely with the other forces in the region as well as our partners to tackle rural crime and the travelling criminals that target vulnerable and rural properties.
Inspector Maddison said he wanted more people to sign up to rural and farm watch schemes to help with the force target and deal with offenders robustly.
"Our message to those offenders is - If you're using our countryside, woodland or farmland for criminal activity, we're coming after you."
The initiative is supported by Cleveland's police and crime commissioner Barry Coppinger, who is championing activity to support communities who may have felt vulnerable in the past.
Mr Coppinger said: "I am fully supportive of this initiative and have attended a number of meetings to help establish its set up and to encourage members of the public to get involved.
He added: "We are particularly keen to have a community volunteer in Middlesbrough to take the lead for a rural watch scheme."
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