By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
TO combat the recent increase in thefts from farms and building sites, the Guardia Civil has launched a special island-wide operation, in co-operation with Local Police forces, to try and combat the wave of robberies.

The theft of 40'000 tons of giant bobbin reels of copper valued at over 300'000 euros from a depot in Binissalem over the festive period has set alarm bells ringing.

Although four people were arrested on Monday in connection with the massive heist and six tons of the stolen copper recovered, the Guardia Civil have become increasingly concerned by the jump in these kinds of robberies and the professionalism of the gangs of thieves.

After a meeting with the President of the Balearic Farmers' Union, Biel Company, yesterday, the central government delegate to the Balearics, Ramon Socias, who controls the operations of the Guardia Civil and National Police state security services, announced that a major police operation is going to be carried out over the next few months in an attempt to bring an end to the wave of robberies sweeping across Majorca's agricultural heartland.

Apart from the copper, a few weeks ago, an artichoke farm was targeted by a gang of thieves and Company fears that, in few of this year's bumper crops, there will be an increase in these kinds of robberies unless swift and affective action is taken by the security services.

Socias has pledged the support of the Guardia Civil and special units are now going to be regularly patrolling all of the local markets to monitor what is on sale and who is selling the produce.

Socias admitted yesterday that farms have been the target of thieves for the past few months,.
The central government delegate revealed that during the final quarter of last year, no less than 50 thefts were reported.
The majority in Majorca's main farming district is in the centre of the island and the north west of the island. However, Company said that in reality, the number of thefts could be double or triple the actual number because most farmers have not got the time to waste filing complaints.

He also added that, in some cases, the value of the goods stolen is no more than 40 euros and Company claims that many farmers do not feel it is worth reporting the theft.

The meeting was also attended by leading local farmers and high ranking members of the Guardia Civil to discuss the situation in depth and exchange information.

The meeting was also used to debate how best to address the problem which is not going to be an easy one to resolve.
The Guardia Civil have also agreed to set up a special hotline for farmers who have been robbed so they can quickly report thefts over the telephone or by internet.

The Guardia Civil revealed that not only have fruit and vegetable products been targeted by thieves, so too has farming equipment and material as well as 4'000 litres of diesel - not to mention the problem the police are facing with the new wave of robberies from building suites and suppliers.

Socias also revealed that there are going to be considerably more road side checks in rural areas in order to try and intercept any people transporting suspicious products or material.

The central government delegate said that a new and clear line of cooperation has been opened between all parties involved in the new fight against agricultural crime.

Company welcomed the central government's commitment claiming that it will ease the pressure on many farmers who have been mounting their own over night patrols and invested vast amounts of money in new security systems.

Socias also said that culprits can expect to be faced with stricter and tougher panelists under the new penal code which includes rural crime of this kind.

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