Meet the rural police officer who wants to visit every farm in his Harborough patch - all 200-300 of them
The rural beat bobby for Harborough has launched a special high-powered mission for 2020 – and it’s a massive one.
PC Steve Winn has got up to 300 farms on his far-flung patch to the north of Market Harborough.
And the likeable, popular officer aims to try to visit each and every one of them in the daily battle to combat local crime.
Based at Market Harborough police station, Steve, 36, told the Harborough Mail: “We must have 200-300 farms scattered across our district.
“I’ll do my best to get out and see every farmer in my neck of the woods this year.”
He added: “It won’t be easy but I’m a big believer in engaging with people and being highly visible.
“I love doing this job.
“And talking to people face to face, being a reassuring presence and handing out advice where ever I can is a huge part of it.”
A proud cop for 17 years, Steve said quad bikes and ‘all terrain vehicles’ (ATVs) are being targeted by ruthless rural gangs at the moment.
“They are valuable, they can be worth up to £10,000 and they can easily be transported away.
“Criminals can load them up, drive off and sell them on,” warned the Harborough born-and-bred officer.
“Farms are vulnerable and I can’t be everywhere at once.
“Thefts like this are not just robbing farmers of kit and equipment worth thousands of pounds.
“Quad bikes and other machinery are often highly personalised and customised.
“So stealing them can easily knock the farmer out of their stride and make life much tougher for them.”
Steve said an expensive Manitou forklift was stolen from a farm at Peatling Parva, near Lutterworth, earlier this month.
“The Melton Mowbray area is suffering from a lot of farm crime – they’re losing quite a few trailers and vehicles over there.
“We’ve set up Leicestershire & Rutland Rural Watch on Facebook to bring everyone together in the fight against rural crime,” said the dad-of-two, who lives just outside Harborough.
“And it’s working really well.
“Social media can truly extend the long arm of the law!
“There’s no substitute for getting out and seeing people.
“But Facebook and Twitter are crucial tools as we try to police a sprawling chunk of Leicestershire as effectively as possible.
“I issued a Facebook alert on a crime at Gaulby and it was shared by over 2000 people and reached about 200,000.
“So we can urge people all over the county to be extra vigilant and on their guard within moments if we need to.”
Steve, who served as a detective in Leicestershire CID for two years, said he had also tackled regular anti-social behaviour problems.
“I’ve patrolled Fleckney, Kibworth, Great Glen, Thurnby and Scraptoft for the last seven or eight years.
“Every now and again we’ve had issues with youths in between leaving school and starting work upsetting people,” said the devoted Arsenal fan.
“I’ve talked to these lads, done my best to understand them and find out what they’d like.
“Most of the time it’s something as simple as a floodlit football pitch or basketball court.
“And I’ll work with the local parish council to make that happen.
“I’m keen not to criminalise these teenagers at an early age.
“Rather than be too authoritarian or hardline I’d rather use persuasion and education to instil a sense of tolerance and respect for others.”
As for making your home, farm or business more crime-proof, Steve said: “It’s basic common sense.
“Shut it and lock it.
“Make sure you always close and lock all your windows, doors and vehicles.
“Think about installing CCTV cameras, more security lights and burglar alarms.
“Dogs are brilliant, too, for helping to make you safer and more secure – they’re a fantastic deterrent.”
He stressed: “Criminals are lazy – and often opportunists.
“They carry out a lot of hit and run, smash and grab-type offences.
“Many of them now just use their hands, they don’t take toolbags with them as they used to.
“So don’t make it easy for them – don’t leave your windows and doors open and insecure.”
Steve is looking forward to getting stuck into another frantic, non-stop tour on his unique country beat in 2020.
“I’m a lucky fella – I love it here.
“It’s a lovely area and everyone cares.
“That’s what makes Market Harborough and our surrounding villages a joy to work,” he smiled.
“I’ll never forget I gave a talk in Newton Harcourt one Saturday afternoon.
“There are only about 200 villagers there and I feared that only two or three might come along.
“But 20-30 people turned out to listen to me when they could have been watching football or doing their shopping!
“That shows an incredible sense of community.
“It’s why my patch is such a desirable place to live and why I’m so committed to working with the people who live here.”
To find out more about the police’s Leicestershire & Rutland Rural Watch Facebook page visit: https://www.facebook.com/leicsruralwatch/