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Blackburn man with farmland full of stolen vehicles


A MAN has been jailed for 18 months after police discovered over £250,000 worth of stolen agricultural vehicles and machinery on farm land.

Lancashire Police recovered the items from land in Accrington that was being used by 70-year-old Fred Cottam. Officers attended the site in February last year as part of an investigation being carried out with Northumbria Constabulary.

Cottam, of Garsden Avenue, Blackburn, had been keeping three tractors, a JCB digger, a JCB loader, a salt spreader, an Ifor Williams trailer and a horse box on the land. Checks were made on the items and they were found to have been stolen from farms across the country.

Appearing at Preston Crown Court on Friday, Cottam was jailed for 18 months for conspiring to handle stolen goods and theft of a motor vehicle.

“A member of the public who went on to unknowingly purchase a stolen and cloned vehicle discovered what had happened after taking it to a test centre and police were alerted.

“When we went to the land that was being used by Cottam we found a variety of tractors and other machines that had been stolen from across the UK, which highlighted the fact that there had been a number of farmers who had fallen victim to Cottam’s scheme.”

He added: “The judge’s sentence reflected Cottam’s age and health, but he made it very clear that the courts take a dim view of criminals who target our country’s farmers in order to steal from them – this not only has a financial impact but can ultimately have a serious effect on their livelihoods.

“As such, Lancashire Constabulary has a dedicated organised vehicle crime team who will continue to seek out offenders who steal, clone and handle tractors and agricultural equipment.”

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