THE introduction of Whatsapp for police officers and farmers in Wiltshire has been hailed a success after the use of the app helped with a cross-border crime.

A fogging cannon worth approximately £16,000 and a trailer worth approximately £3,000 were reported stolen from an address in Romsey, Hampshire, earlier this month.

Information in relation to the cannon was circulated on the Whatsapp group after a member of the public spotted it when out on a track just off the A36 at Pepperbox Hill in Wiltshire.

Through the group, it was identified that the item had been stolen from the Hampshire area.

The stolen trailer remains outstanding at this time and enquiries continue.

Insp Liz Coles said: “Thanks to the improved communications between our local rural communities and police officers, we have been able to swiftly reunite the owner with these high value items despite this crime taking place across the border in Hampshire.

“We will work closely with Hampshire Constabulary as the investigation progresses.

“The Whatsapp group is proving really popular amongst the rural community who are able to liaise directly with officers, share information and intelligence as well as crime prevention advice.”

Whatsapp has been launched as a pilot amongst officers, starting initially with the rural crime team.

Supt Chris Chammings said: “I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to make improvements to our technology to reach out to our rural communities who can often feel isolated.

"This is a great example of how these kinds of improvements to our technology can assist in solving crime and reassuring residents that we will take all reports of rural crime seriously and will do all that we can to identify those responsible.”