Two thieves live-streamed being chased by police in Northern England on the Snapchat messaging app after stealing an all-terrain vehicle from a farm.

The chase took place in Teesdale in County Durham in May. Both thieves have since been jailed for 20 months.

Durham Constabulary said on social media: “Snapchat — the quickest way to share a police pursuit and fast track yourself to prison!”

YouTube video

“Two burglars proved they aren’t the brightest sparks after live-streaming their police pursuit over Snapchat — which ended when they were caught and arrested by officers,” Durham police said.

The police added the suspect, Leon Robinson, “egged on” accomplice and driver Mark Gary Carroll during the car chase after they were spotted trying to steal equipment from a farm in Teesdale.

A local resident saw the suspects trying to abscond with a Polaris ATV (all-terrain vehicle) and reported their van’s details to the rural community’s Rural Watch WhatsApp group, which forwarded it to police.

Officers then pursued the vehicle and, despite being rammed by the suspects, were able to intercept the van and detain the pair. They tried to run, but were corralled with the help of a police dog deployed at the scene. The police also recovered the farmer’s ATV.

Mark Gary Carroll was the driver of the van containing a stolen ATV. (Durham Police/Zenger)
Leon Robinson exhorted the driver of a van containing a stolen ATV to continue fleeing police. (Durham Police/Zenger)

At a subsequent appearance in Durham Crown Court, both Carroll and Robinson were sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay 156 pounds (about $215) to the farmer.

Carroll was also banned from driving for 22 months.

“The job was a great example of community, Rural Watch and police working together to catch the individuals who traveled into our area to steal farm machinery,” said Durham Constabulary CID spokesperson Detective Sergeant Sarah Hindmarsh. “We will not stand for this type of behavior in our communities and hope this result deters others who think they can come into our rural areas to commit criminal offenses.”

The two suspects stopped their van (upper left-center of image) and tried to run away before being arrested. (@durhamconstabulary/Zenger)

As the technological sophistication of farm machinery has increased in recent decades, such equipment has become the target of thieves. As a report from the Washington State Department of Agriculture put it:

“The theft of farm machinery causes huge personal and financial losses for farmers. Tractors, plows, augers, generators, welders, pick-ups or other trucks, and things like quad runners are attractive targets for thieves. The theft of machinery parts, such as lights, batteries, and radios from tractors, is also a problem for many farmers.

“”The costs are high for farmers when replacing stolen equipment. If the theft occurs during critical periods of planting and harvesting, loss of productivity can compound the total financial loss.”

(Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Fern Siegel)

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