THIEVES who have been targeting caravan sites across West Dorset have been branded “petty”.

Hook-up cables which supply caravans with mains electricity have been cut by thieves during late nights raids on the sites.

Police believe the cables are being stripped and the copper wire inside being sold for scrap.

A total of 21 cables have gone missing from sites including Bagwell Farm Touring Park and East Fleet Farm Holiday Park near Chickerell and Portesham Dairy Farm.

Sites across the area have been on high alert since warning emails started circulating among owners following the first crime earlier this month.

Mike Cooper, chairman of Dorset and District Association of the Camping and Caravanning Club, said this type of theft was very unusual.

He said: “If the cable costs £17 new the scrap value won’t be much. It cannot be worth it surely, even if they take the whole cable to a scrap yard.

“If they are burning it to get to the copper then there’s a lot of work for nothing.

“I actually work in the parks industry and have leads scrapped and we don’t get much; it’s got to be petty thieves.”

He added: “I’ve been camping for 18 years and been chairman for 11 years and I’ve not heard of anyone having their leads taken before.”

Ali Stamper, a director at East Fleet Farm Holiday Park, has had scrap stolen from her farm as well as the hook-up cables.

She said: “The thefts are annoying, I think it’s absolutely pointless, I cannot understand why someone would do that.

“It’s quite a risk for the scrap value of them. You can get plastic ends and sell them as a unit again but then it would look a bit suspicious trying to sell a quantity of electric leads.”

She added: “On our camera we have recorded people in the farm yard but unfortunately we weren’t able to see their faces.”

No one would comment at the other camping sites about the thefts.

Inspector Les Fry of Dorset Police said he had never seen this type of theft before.

He said: “There’s a very, very small amount of copper wire in the leads.

“Electricity cables like these only have a little bit of metal in them, but I do think that the cables were stolen to be stripped for wire.

“I think its desperate stealing anything that moves; I despair what people steal sometimes.”

Operation Countryside

DORSET Police have launched Operation Countryside to combat rural crime The initiative comes after a 17 per cent increase in rural crime including the theft of diesel, heating oil, scrap metal and lead and an eight per cent increase in tractor thefts.

Dorchester and Sherborne Neighbourhood Inspector Les Fry said: “People should consider CCTV where appropriate and sign up to initiatives like Stop That Thief and Stop That Oil.”

The Stop That Thief scheme was originally launched by Bridport Police station and the West Dorset branch of the NFU in 2007 to prevent thefts from rural businesses by using mobile burglar alarm systems.

Under the Stop That Oil scheme, officers supply domestic oil tank owners with details of an oil competency scheme certification, OFTEC registered oil tank installers and alarm fitters.