CRIMINALS could be getting ready to target high-value fuel and machinery in forests across Scotland. 

A recent spate of incidents saw padlocks damaged and removed, locks broken and tools stolen from a nearby harvester at woodland sites, with forestry officials fearing it could be the precursor to more "serious activity". 

Across the weekend of July 30/31, West Lothian's Camilty and Woodmuir forests, Heathland in South Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire's Benhar were targeted by crooks.

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Carol McGinnis, FLS central region manager, said: “We have had several instances recently of damage to padlocks that give us reason to believe that criminals have targeted high-value assets in our forests such as machinery and fuel.

“Over the last two weeks we have had damage done at four of our sites. Three padlocks were damaged, which could be a precursor to further unauthorised access, and locks were broken and tools stolen from a contractor’s harvester at another location.

“We cannot have staff on the ground everywhere and at all times so we would appreciate help from visitors who might see suspicious activity." 

Carol added: “Theft of equipment and fuel clearly would have a practical and financial impact on our ability to do our job managing Scotland’s forests.

“If anyone does see anything untoward in any of the woodlands we manage, please report it to Police Scotland on 101, or if more serious 999.”

Police Scotland has been made aware of the incidents. Forestry Journal has contacted the force for comment.