A 70-year-old man has been jailed after police discovered over £250,000 worth of stolen agricultural vehicles and machinery on farm land.
Fred Cottam 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 in Accrington.
Officers attended the site in February last year as part of an investigation being carried out with Northumbria Constabulary.
Cottam, of Garsden Avenue, Blackburn, was jailed for 18 months for conspiring to handle stolen goods and theft of a motor vehicle at Preston Crown Court.
Checks were made on the items and they were found to have been stolen from farms across the country.
Detective Sergeant Simon Ingham, of Lancashire Constabulary’s organised vehicle crime team, said: "Cottam had been taking the machinery and vehicles on to the land and then changing their identity by swapping their number plates.
"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."