Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa hailed the efforts of the county's first Rural Crime Team whose investigation work helped resolve rural crimes worth a combined £120,000 in its first six months.
The dedicated team, which is based at Matlock, has been at the forefront of a series of intelligence-led operations to tackle rural crime threats including illegal fish poaching, hare coursing and thefts of quad bikes, tractors and trailers.
Its work has been so successful the team has now more than doubled in size to accommodate extra investigative work and make Derbyshire's rural communities safer.
Shift patterns of team members have also been reconfigured to maximise visibility in the community - with officers on duty during the evenings and early hours when farmers and rural residents are at their most vulnerable.
In addition, the team is leading the way in the introduction of new crime prevention methods such as diesel dye and Tec Tracer forensic livestock marking to help protect the property of Derbyshire's farmworkers and livestock managers.
The team launched in March 2017 to help protect rural communities across Derbyshire.
It followed a pledge by the Commissioner to ensure rural residents are listened to and the right resources are in place to tackle rural crime quickly and effectively.
Upon launch, the team was composed of an inspector and two police constables however due to its resounding success the team has already been extended and is now comprised of an inspector, sergeant, four police constables, the wildlife and rural coordinator and a police support volunteer.
Special Constables are also attached to the team and have been involved in several successful operations while the team also leans on the expertise of the force's 27 wildlife crime specialist officers.
Commenting on its success, Mr Dhindsa said: "Derbyshire's Rural Crime Team is everything we hoped it would be; passionately fighting the crimes that bring misery to our rural communities and preventing hardworking business owners from suffering unnecessary financial losses.
"The team has a strong and regular presence at farmers' markets and agricultural events which has not only improved communication between police and our rural communities but has also led to increased reports of rural crime which have been subsequently taken up and investigated by the team.
"In particular, we've seen an increase in membership to our Farm Watch scheme which is a fantastic crime prevention tool helping to warn farmers of live crime threats.
"Residents are full of praise for the team and its work and I've no doubt that it will continue to go from strength to strength in 2018 and I look forward to further successes in the future."
Between March and September 2017, the team completed investigations into 34 rural crimes including theft of cattle, criminal damage, theft of scrap metal, burglaries and theft of agricultural equipment amounting to £123,000 in losses. Since then, the team has investigated many more rural crimes.
In September, the team ran a successful joint fish poaching operation in conjunction with a number of partners including all four police forces in the Midlands region, the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust.
The team has also been able to reopen rural crimes that had previously been closed to pursue new lines of enquiry which have often led to a successful outcome. This would not have been possible without the support of partner organisations and the public who have fully supported and praised the service from the team.
The team's volunteer has also been working in partnership with the National Farmers' Union to attend Bakewell Agricultural Market every Monday to engage with farmers and increase uptake of Farm Watch. This presence has encouraged farmers to report rural crime which has been followed up and investigated by the team and share intelligence.
Over the festive period, the team will carried out crime prevention patrols with the aim of disrupting several types of crime including wildlife crime and acquisitive crime.