Petworth police seize stolen tractor after roadside check

A stolen tractor worth £12,000 was recovered by police in Petworth, after a routine roadside check last Tuesday, August 28.

The tractor, a New Holland T3040 which was stolen from the area in 2010, was being towed through Market Square on a plant trailer when police stopped the driver.

After extensive enquiries it was discovered the vehicle was stolen and a 40-year-old man was arrested.

He has been bailed until September 16 so the police can make further enquiries.

The routine check was part of Sussex Police’s Operation Vanquish, which has been conducting the general checks on a regular basis around the district.

The whole operation was organised by Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Ian Luxford, who said: “Whilst the majority of offences we deal with relate to road traffic matters its not uncommon for us to come across offences of a more serious nature.

“Its only through stopping vehicles that some of these offences come to light and the fact that today we recovered £12,000 worth of agricultural machinery goes some way to show that road traffic enforcement operations do have an impact on rural crime.

“The case of the recovered tractor really does highlight the importance of recording serial numbers and chassis numbers of your property as without it checks at the roadside are not always as successful.”

Operation Vanquish saw the Midhurst and Petworth Policing Team join forces with a number of other agencies including the Roads Policing Unit, the UK Border Agency, Vehicle Operator Standards Agency (VOSA), Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Chichester District Council, and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

In addition to the recovery of the stolen tractor, 14 drivers received tickets for not wearing seatbelts and six were issued endorsable tickets for using a mobile phone while driving.

Three cars were also judged to have defects and were issued with prohibitions by the VOSA, meaning they cannot be used until the faults are corrected.

The UK Border Agency stopped a student whose study visa had expired, and are now investigating whether an application had been made for a new one.

HMRC were testing for diesel that did not have the correct tax paid. All vehicles tested were found to be using the correct fuel.

The DWP investigated people that had been stopped and checked if there were any offences relating to benefits. They are making further enquiries on 20 people.

PCSO Luxford added: “Having a number of different agencies involved enables us to deal with literally any offence at the roadside.”

This operation is a follow up to the educational operation Operation Airwalk run by the Midhurst and Petworth Neighbourhood Policing Team the month before along with West Sussex Fire and Rescue.