Hare coursers warned 'we will crush your vehicle'

A crushed car

Your car or van could be crushed if you're convicted of hare-coursing, Suffolk police have warned. - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

Vehicles used in hare-coursing will be crushed, warn police as they launch a crackdown on the blood sport.

Suffolk police say they will seize any vehicles being used in connection with the illegal activity.

Sgt Brian Calver from the Suffolk Rural Crime and Wildlife Team said: "Hare coursing is a huge issue for farmers and landowners with many people living in fear of these criminals.

"This illegal activity damages property threatens people's incomes and subjects people to fear and intimidation.

"Many of those are very unpleasant with violent and unscrupulous backgrounds, many of whom have links to organised criminality.

"Significant sums of money can change hands in the form of illegal betting and gambling on the outcome."

A crushed car with a police rural crime vehicle in Suffolk

The crushed car was formerly Suzuki Vitara. The vehicle wasn’t crushed as a consequence of a hare-coursing incident but Suffolk police say it acts as a visual example of the potential penalty. - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

Reports of hare coursing have been increasing in Suffolk in recent years however, in the period from September 1, 2019 to March 31 2020 there were 139 incidents reported, while only 80 have been reported since September last year.

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Under the banner of Operation Galileo forces from across the country work together sharing information and intelligence on hare coursers planning to trespass on farmland.

Four men standing in a field

Tim Woodward regional surveyor from the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore, Sgt Brian Calver from Suffolk Constabulary’s Rural & Wildlife Crime Team and Charles Hesketh, Suffolk county adviser from the National Farmers Union. - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: "Suffolk is particularly vulnerable to hare-coursers due to our wonderful open spaces and population of brown hares so it is very important to make it clear that this despicable behaviour will not be tolerated in our beautiful county."

National Farmers Union county adviser Charles Hesketh said: "Hare coursing is a serious problem in the countryside, which leaves farmers feeling isolated, desperate and powerless to stop coursers trespassing on their land.

"As well as the illegal killing of wildlife, coursers damage crops, hedges and gates and they are prepared to use violence and intimidation against farmers if challenged."

Two men with a crush car in Suffolk

Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore and Sgt Brian Calver from Suffolk Constabulary’s Rural & Wildlife Crime Team - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

Anyone who spots signs of hare coursing please call 101: 

  • 4x4 vehicles with dogs, particularly if they are being driven around fields
  • They may be seen driving slowly or parked on verges, field entrances. Sometimes they’ll park up on the edge of fields - away from public rights of way, to try and avoid being seen
  • Estate cars could also be used or professionally sign written vans, so nothing should be discounted, if it looks out of place
  • Traditionally offenders walk in a line across a field with their dogs, to flush hares, before releasing the hounds.
  • They will always use sighthounds, such as greyhounds, salukis and Lurcher types