THOUSANDS of pounds of farm equipment, including a two-tonne generator, has been found by police just two days after the launch of a new crime prevention scheme.

The items, stolen in Cambridgeshire, were found at an address in Altham.

It was one of a number of hauls which were discovered following the launch of Farmwatch in the area.

Police raided a house and found the machine had been marked with a unique identification Datatag, which helps officers trace stolen equipment back to its owner.

A 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft and has been released without further action.

Officers from Lancashire Constabulary were the first in the country to be trained to use Datatag.

Stolen equipment registered with the system is six times more likely to be recovered, and four times less likely to be stolen in the first place.

The new Farmwatch scheme, which was launched last week, allows police to share information with farmers, stable owners, and other businesses that are other-wise hard to reach because of their working conditions.

Officers alert farmers to any suspicious behaviour, or recent crimes, via either email or telephone.

Farmers are also encouraged to inform police of sightings of suspicious vehicles, worrying of stock, poachers, or other unusual activity, and this information is then quickly relayed to all users of the scheme.

Neighbourhood Watch liaison officer Tony Ford said: “With summer coming, farmers are working outside for longer hours and are more likely to see, or hear, things that might help them protect themselves, or their neighbours against crime.”

Over the last two years, Lancashire Constabulary’s organised vehicle crime team has made some significant seizures of stolen equipment.

In February 2011, officers recovered around £200,000 worth of stolen tractors and plant equipment from the Blackburn area and, in April 2011, recovered a further six stolen excavators and plant equipment, valued at more than £250,000.

Anyone who wants to join Farmwatch can contact Tony on 01254 353238.