A RURAL crime spree during the coronavirus lockdown has prompted police to set up a new force of countryside crimestoppers.

Sussex Police Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner said officers had noticed recent cases of thieves stealing animals and quad bikes.

Officers arrested three men in High Hurstwood near Crowborough recently on suspicion of burglary.

So the force has launched a new team to tackle countryside crime.

“There have been cases recently of animal thefts, quad bike thefts and numerous other countryside offences,” DCC Shiner, right, said.

“We want perpetrators of these crimes to know we are here to catch them. Do not consider committing the crime because we will bring you to justice.

“It is so important to have a dedicated team for this area of policing, which quite often can go unnoticed.”

The team consists of two sergeants, eight constables and six police community support officers.

It will be based in Midhurst and Heathfield and will focus on agricultural, wildlife and heritage crime.

Rural crime lead Chief Inspector Steve Biglands has urged countryside residents to report crime so the force can focus on areas where it is needed most.

“We want to reassure the residents of Sussex we are here to disrupt rural crime and to ensure our more isolated communities feel safe,” DCC Shiner said.