Light flashes on my eyelids.
Idling engine. Diesel. Remember I left windows open.
Remember farm thefts. Our area. Past week. Late at night.
I leap out of bed, vault into the jeans I’d carefully set out at the end of the bed, race through to the hall and jump into my equally carefully positioned wellies.
Snap. The dog, already alert, is off his leash and heading for the door.
I grab the big torch. Flicking multiple light switches, I head for the back door as more and more light floods the steading.
As I hurtle out the door, the idling engine picks up revs and I can hear tyres crunching on our hard standing.
The dog and I sprint to the end of the house. The vehicle is now out on the road and accelerating hard.
I race around the corner, sprint up the hardstanding and look down the road.
Nothing much. I can hear an engine working hard and see a shadow on the road, then brake lights as the vehicle approaches the bend a few hundred metres off. The vehicle’s lights are off and stay off as it heads towards the village.
I go back inside. The Other Half is just stirring.
After giving her a quick synopsis of what’s occurred, I’m on the phone to Grampian Police‘s non-urgent phone line.
The police call handler makes a note of what’s occurred and where, then says the information will be passed on. I don’t expect any more as we don’t usually get a police response to incidents out here.
I phone our neighbours and alert them. A farm a couple of miles up the road from us was burgled last week, as was a croft a mile or so from them.
One of our neighbours was woken a few nights ago when a car drove slowly past his place, pulled in and cut its lights. When he put his security lights on, the car drove off at speed.
Another farm a little further away was burgled a couple of nights ago.
I go outside to double-check everything. The croft is ablaze with lights: five big halogen lamps plus all the outbuilding lights. All the padlocks on the outbuilding doors are intact. The wheel clamp on the livestock trailer is untouched.
The livestock is all accounted for. All the steel gates are still in place.
I switch the croft lights off and take the dog inside. The automatic lights switch off.
After switching all the house lights off, I go upstairs, open the loft window and sit on a chair with my big torch on my knees. I wait.
A little later, a car slowly cruises down the main road. It drives past our junction, stops and slowly reverses up our side road.
I stand up and shine the torch on it. It’s a large car but I can’t see the registration because of the hedge. Whoever it is doesn’t like being illuminated and drives off at speed.
I settle down to wait some more. In the dark.
Ten minutes later I hear another engine coming along the main road. It’s being driven a bit faster and has multiple lights on.
To my surprise, I realise it’s a police car.
I go downstairs, flick a few lights on and go outside just as the police pull in.
We have a chat. I’m the second person to phone in from our area with a report of suspicious vehicles and activity.
The police say it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, but they also have a dog unit in the area and will be active until dawn.
I’ve had to face down multiple intruders on my own before so it’s useful to know we’re not entirely on our own, out here in the boonies. It’s also much less hassle for me if a police dog bites an intruder instead of me sticking them with a muck fork.
The police drive off and I settle down to maintain my night watch. I suspect that whoever I disturbed, whether the first or second time, won’t be back tonight but I can’t be certain.
I wait another hour then go back to bed. The window is open a crack. The security lights are primed. My jeans are laid out for fast dressing. My wellies are in position. The torch is in position.
I’ll sleep lightly. Tonight. And tomorrow night. And the night after.
There’s nothing quite like alarums and excursions in the deep of night to get the blood racing.
- Police probe theft of 400 sheep (fwi.co.uk)
- Underworld gangs behind explosion in livestock rustling as value of rural crimewave hits £6m (dailyrecord.co.uk)
- Major rise in thefts from Scottish farms (bbc.co.uk)