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Spanish farmers tool up to tackle thieves

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Spanish farmers tool up to tackle thieves
Get off my land: farmers have been warned that hunting licences do not permit them to shoot at would-be intruders. File Photo: Flickr/Hortolano
14:22 CEST+02:00
A wave of rural robberies in Murcia has led farmers to look for ways to legally arm themselves in order to defend their livelihoods.

The president of the Coordinator of Organizations of Farmers and Growers (COAG) in the southeast Spanish city of Cartagena revealed details this week of a crime wave that is frustrating local farmers.

Vincente Carrión told La Opinion de Murcia newspaper: "In the last week alone they've stolen two power converters and broken into three houses."

Civil Guard officers have warned farmers that they are not allowed to use firearms to deter would-be intruders, even if the firearms are legally owned.

"A hunting licence doesn't allow a property owner to use a gun as a means of defence," explained Carrión.

He added: "But it's not unheard of for  someone with a hunting licence to fire a shot into the air to scare off thieves."

Carrión also explained that a hunting licence was not an open licence to carry a gun at any time and any place.

"One man was out with a shotgun at night, next to a road, and the Civil Guard called him to order."

To avoid legal difficulties, farmers' groups are looking into acquiring qualifications as 'country guards' , which confer permission to patrol one's land and carry a firearm.

Carrión noted that "large landowners are choosing to use private security firms, alarm systems and video surveillance to protect their properties."

He added: "But small farmers can't afford that level of security."

Carrión hoped that the Civil Guard and local police would coordinate their efforts better and continue to work with local farmers to seek solutions "to put an end to this wave of robberies."

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