TERRORISED farmers and wildlife in North East Swindon’s villages rejoiced last week after four stolen quad bikes responsible for weeks of damage and poaching were seized by police.

The motors, worth in excess of £60,000 in total when new, have been reportedly smashing through fences and gates, damaging crops and poaching wildlife for the past month.

PC Marc Jackson, Blunsdon community beat manager, has been leading inquiries into the offenders’ actions across land between Blunsdon, Stanton Fitzwarren and Highworth.

The quads are thought to have caused damage of between £2,000 and £3,000. Numerous hares and deer have also been found dead.

The reign of terror finally came to an end last week, as officers retrieved all four agricultural vehicles and arrested one man, following a late-night chase through the farmlands of Stanton.

PC Jackson said: “We had a call from a couple in Stanton Fitzwarren, who said they had tried to detain these bikers, who had been on their land.

“They had made off, crashing through fences, but two became stuck. They ran away through the fields, but a PCSO gave chase and caught one of them.

“For us, it’s a fantastic thing. It’s great to work with the rural communities in partnership. We are able to work out the routes they take coming into the land.

“This is a great partnership which has led to us solving the problem.”

The other two quads were later found abandoned.

The man arrested, aged between 20 and 30 and local to the area, has been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

The high-end bikes are thought to be stolen and PC Jackson is already making inquiries with neighbouring forces in Gloucestershire and Thames Valley to establish whether they have had any reports of theft.

The arrest and repossession of the off-roaders was the result of several night-time operations carried out by officers trying to end this run of offences.

“The reports have been coming back to us on a daily basis, and have been spiking at the weekends.

“Late at night they were causing damage to fencing and crop fields, as well as poaching,” said PC Jackson.

“We began working with the farm and gamekeeping communities, as well as residents, to build up a picture of what was going on. We ran a number of operations on a number of nights.”

The investigation into these offences continues, and anyone with information is asked to contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, where information can be left anonymously, on 0800 555 111.