THE Balearic ministry of the interior is setting up special rural night patrols in an effort to cut down the theft of crops on local farms.
Sebastia Amengual is in charge of organising the operation, following complaints from farmers, who say that the number of thefts of crops and damage to farm equipment is on the increase.
The night patrrols are the result of talks at the beginning of the month between Biel Company, the president of the farming co-operative Asaja Balearics, Ramon Garcias, the central government representative to the Balearics, and high-ranking officers of the Guardia Civil, who are responsible for law and order in the countryside.
Company said that in the past, the farmers had not reported the thefts, because quantities were small and they felt it was not worth the time making a report takes.
However, the number of thefts and the value of goods stolen has risen sharply in the past couple of months.
Socias said that the Guardia Civil patrols would be modified, to make them more efficient.
Sources said that fruit was stolen to be sold on the beaches, but fuel and machinery are also targeted.
Among the worse hit areas were Sa Pobla, Muro, Can Picafort and the centre of the island.
Farmers in Maria de la Salut and Sa Pobla said that melons, water melons, aubergenes, garlic and tomatoes are taken, as well as diesel, piping, machinery and even water sprinklers.
One farmer complained that at one time you could leave a case of potatoes unwatched all morning, no you can't because you run the risk of having it stolen. Socias said that the night patrols would be formed by Guardia Civil officers, and also Local Police officers, who will crack down on people selling fruit on the beaches, asking them to prove where it came from.
The new night patrols will be in close contact with the farmers and will operate preferentially in the areas where most thefts have been reported.