recent surge in crop circles is being caused by drone users who upload their aerial footage on social media, a police force has said as it announced a crackdown on farm vandals.
Wiltshire Police issued the warning to the public yesterday following a spate of incidents in recent months, which officers said was being fuelled by scammers who generate publicity online in order to make money from advertising.
So far this year the force has been alerted to 16 incidents, with a recent circle in Alton Barnes measuring 200 acres in diameter. However, the true number is thought to be far higher because many farmers do not come forward.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, rural crime officer Marc Jackson said Wiltshire had been disproportionately affected due to its proximity to Stonehenge, adding that they were most commonly reported near to cultural heritage sites and busy main roads.
“They might seem harmless but they actually have a huge negative impact on the hardworking landowners and farmers whose crops are damaged,” he continued. “Creating a crop circle is criminal damage and an offence. Often immediately after a crop circle appears, people will arrive with a drone to photograph it.
“Individuals using a drone in the immediate time after a crop circle, may be connected to the group who have created the circle. The footage is quickly circulated on social media to generate interest and on websites that charge for advertising space.
“It has also been known for individuals to pose as part of a charity or as the landowner at the site of crop circles and attempt to take ‘donations’ from people viewing it.”
Pc Jackson added that the damage results in a significant loss of revenue for farmers, who are also forced to deal with trespassers who later flock to view them.
Echoing Wiltshire Police’s warning, the National Farmers’ Union said crop circles posed a “considerable nuisance” and members of the public should refrain from giving vandals the desired publicity.
“Although there have been attempts to set up ‘honesty’ schemes to compensate farmers for their losses, these have largely been unsuccessful,” a spokeswoman added.
“We would ask those responsible to stop and for spectators not to come and look unless it is with the express permission of the landowner.”
A word from the drone operator / convicted crop circle hoaxer, Mathew Williams..
This is what one local Wiltshire farmer thinks of the scummy circle hoaxers / vandals in his area….he knows who they are..