Police step up the hunt for arsonists who caused at least four devastating straw fires at farms in the Harborough area over the last three months

“A hay stack can be worth in excess of £40,000 so losing this has a huge impact on the farmers"

Monday, 30th November 2020, 10:19 am
Updated Monday, 30th November 2020, 10:20 am
Police are stepping up the hunt for arsonists who caused at least four devastating straw fires at farms in the Market Harborough area over the last three months.

Police are stepping up the hunt for arsonists who caused at least four devastating straw fires at farms in the Market Harborough area over the last three months.

PC Steve Winn, a rural crime officer based at Market Harborough, is helping to lead the high-profile operation to track down the arsonists.

And he is working alongside Northamptonshire Police, the National Farmers Union and Leicestershire and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Services while the Crimestoppers charity is offering a £1,000 reward to try and catch the culprits.

“We have seen a number of hay stack fires across the Welland Valley area which we believe have been started deliberately.

“Some of these incidents have been across the border into Northamptonshire so we’re working closely with our neighbouring colleagues as enquiries continue.

“Hay is the life blood of a farm, it’s what feeds the animals,” said Steve.

“A hay stack can be worth in excess of £40,000 so losing this has a huge impact on the farmers.

“This year has seen a poor harvest so hay is already in short supply, pushing the prices up and making it even harder for farmers to replace what they have lost.

“In some cases the farmers have no choice but to reduce the size of their livestock, something that has long term, financial consequences on the farm.

“Do not underestimate the impact these attacks can have on victims.”

He is now making a direct appeal to the public to back police hunting the repeat firestarters.

· The crimes are happening overnight. Do you know someone who is acting strangely, perhaps going out late at night and returning in the early hours?

· Are they returning home smelling heavily of smoke?

· Have you noticed anyone carrying items associated with fire? For example, petrol cans, rags, accelerants, lighters, etc.

“We need the community to come together and tell us what they know,” stressed Steve.

“If you see any person or vehicles acting suspiciously, please tell us.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or by reporting online here: leics.police.ukYou can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously without having to give your name.

Crimestoppers are offering a “£1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the arson attacks”.

You can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on their secure online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling the Crimestoppers UK Contact Centre freephone number of 0800 555 111.

Robert Beesley, 53, called on people to help police catch “sick” firebugs who torched over 1,000 bales of his straw – sparking £40,000 damage.

The outraged dad-of-three hit the warpath after arsonists struck his farm at Cranoe, near Hallaton, in the early hours of Saturday (October 17).

The attack came after arsonists targeted Little Oxendon Farm, near Market Harborough, on Sunday September 27.

Criminals also destroyed over 1,000 bales of straw on Patricia Walker’s Langton Hall Farm on West Langton Road, West Langton, on Sunday September 13.

And a devastating blaze tore through over 500 tonnes of straw at Chris Parker’s Home Farm on Valley Road, Weston by Welland, on Wednesday September 16.

To watch PC Steve Winn talking about the straw fire attacks, visit the Leicestershire Police webpage here: https://www.leics.police.uk/news/leicestershire/news/2020/november/do-not-underestimate-the-impact-hay-stack-fires-can-have-on-victims/