Farmers and countryside residents have been urged to make their protection measures – such as security fencing – as robust as possible to help deter thieves.

South Gloucestershire police have this week launched Rural Watch across the county, a scheme which will help people improve their security and combat crime.

The force said the top five most commonly stolen pieces of equipment are quad bikes, mowers, chainsaws, electric power units and tack.

Neighbourhood inspector Deryck Rees said: "We know that thieves will travel to rural areas to target isolated outbuildings and premises, stealing quad bikes and power tools."

The police said it is important that people secure tools and equipment away as thieves often use any items they find on-site to force entry.

Security fencing is one measure that could be implemented to prevent intruder access and keep farms secure.

In February this year, Tayside Police issued a similar warning to people living in rural areas in Scotland.

Claire Taylor, the force's crime prevention officer, said that "good quality robust fencing" could discourage criminal activity.

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