Jan 31 2013 by Rob Pattinson, Ormskirk Advertiser
Tarleton farmer reveals how he tracked down serial farm thief on Ebay
A FARMER turned detective after a break-in – by tracking down the thief who raided his farm on ebay.
Craig Parkinson discovered around £4,000 of stock had been stolen from one of his out buildings in an overnight raid.
The sheep farmer initially feared there was little hope of recovering his items. But after reporting the theft to police, Mr Parkinson decided to take the matter into his own hands.
One of the items stolen from his land on Johnson’s Meanygate, Tarleton, was a distinctive Ryobi pressure washer, so the dad-of-two went online to search auction and shopping website ebay to see if the thief had put it up for sale.
And he was astounded to discover his property was being offered from an address in Southport.
Mr Parkinson said: “I couldn’t believe the gall of him when I saw pictures of my stuff for sale, I thought ‘this can’t be real’.
“I’d got to the farm site the morning after the raid and found someone had been in, cut through the mesh fence and taken a load of items from my shed.
“One of the bigger pieces was a pressure washer, as well as stuff for dealing with the sheep.
“It was about £4,000 worth, which is a big hit to take. After I spoke to police I decided to have a look on ebay myself, searched for the pressure washer, and there it was.
“In the pictures I could even see the rest of my stuff in boxes in the background. I said to my wife Eve, ‘come and look at this, it’s unbelievable!’.”
Mr Parkinson then sent a message to the ebay account saying he was interesting in buying the item, and was provided with an address by the seller.
He said: “I was going to go round and take it back myself but went to the police in Southport first and they said they would go instead.
“They then called me and said it was a bigger job than they thought and said they would get back to me in a few days.”
Following Mr Parkinson’s tip-off, officers from Skem CID executed a warrant at two addresses in Southport on October 5 last year.
They found a haul of items stolen from more than a dozen West Lancs farms worth around £15,000, including two valuable mountain bikes.
Last Wednesday, Christopher Taylor, 27, from Crescent Road, Southport, was jailed for five months after admitting the break-in on September 28. Taylor had 15 other break-ins which took place in August and September taken into consideration by the judge.
An eight month suspended sentence for wounding which had been hanging over Taylor at the time was also activated, making a total of 13 months.
Michael Hagerty, defending, said Taylor had been unemployed and in financial difficulties at the time of the offences. He had pleaded guilty and was now working as a chef.
Judge Brian Lewis was only able to sentence Taylor to a maximum of six months imprisonment for the raids because his case had been committed to Liverpool Crown Court under the wrong legislation from Ormskirk magistrates.
He told Taylor that his hands were tied, but if they had been “unfettered” the sentence would have been much longer.
Following the sentence, Mr Parkinson said: “For a small business, £4,000 of stuff is a lot. It wasn’t worth claiming because of the increase to my insurance premiums so I was delighted to get the stuff back.
“I’m pleased he’s been caught but I do wish he had got a longer sentence, for the impact he’s had on businesses it’s not a long time.”
And while Mr Parkinson has no plans to give up the day job to become a super sleuth, he added: “If the police want my help in future and the pay is right I’d be happy to help them out!”
Sgt Steve Monk, of Lancashire Police, said: “The warrant was issued after we received community-based intelligence. We are always grateful for this and do rely on local residents helping us to fight crime.
“We were pleased on this occasion to be able to reunite so many owners with property, we didn’t expect to find as much as we did. Some of those affected were small business owners who could scarcely afford to replace the items stolen. The offender has now been jailed and I’m pleased that we can give some piece of mind to those victims who were targeted.”