CRAVEN residents have been praised by police for their vigilance and community spirit after two suspected stolen quad bikes were recovered within hours of their thefts.

Officers in the county have pledged to continue targeting quad bike thieves – whose criminality is more damaging than ever at this time of year.

In the space of two days last week, three people were arrested in connection with stealing quads, in two separate incidents.

At 8.30pm on Thursday, March 26, witnesses called police with a report that a quad bike and a car had been driven at speed through Burnsall, heading towards Bolton Abbey, near Skipton. The bike, a red Honda, was followed by a silver Ford Fiesta. Vigilant local residents had used a WhatsApp group to share the suspicious circumstances with each other, and as a result contacted North Yorkshire Police with the information. A short time later, police officers on the A65 stopped a Ford Fiesta and asked the two occupants about their journey – considering the current Government instruction to avoid non-essential travel. Given the circumstances, the two people in the Fiesta, a 21-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman, were both arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary. The man was also arrested on suspicion of drug driving, and possession of cannabis. They have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

The following day, at about 3pm on Friday, March 27, a witness reported that he had seen a suspected stolen quad bike being ridden through Burnsall. The quad bike subsequently crashed into a hedge near Addingham. A man was subsequently charged with theft of a motor vehicle, driving without a licence, and driving without insurance, and has already appeared in court.

Inspector Matt Hagen, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “With the vast majority of people doing their bit to help stop the spread of coronavirus, it’s almost beyond belief that thieves would continue to prey on rural areas, targeting quad bikes and other high-value equipment.

“Fortunately, here in North Yorkshire, police officers work really closely with our rural communities, and people are used to keeping an eye out for one another. That community spirit, and great relationship between the police and the public, has led to three arrests and two bikes recovered last week.

“With lambing season in full swing, many farmers rely on their quads for their work at this time of year. And with restrictions in place due to coronavirus, it’s more important than ever that farmers can keep working to put food on our tables. So we’ll continue to target thieves who come to North Yorkshire looking to steal quads, and I’d ask people to continue to contact us with information about suspicious activity.

“Local residents are the best people to recognise when something is unusual or out of place – and if that’s the case, we’d like to hear about it. Even when you are at home, your eyes and ears can help us bring rural criminals to justice. In an emergency – for example, if a crime is in progress, or someone suspected of a crime is nearby – call 999. If you don’t need an emergency response, please report anything suspicious to us using the 101 phone number. Every piece of information helps us build up a picture and could prove vital in bringing criminals to justice.”