Surrey Police's innovative rural crime-fighting scheme, Country Watch, has reached a milestone.

The initiative, launched in Reigate and Banstead borough in March, 2010, and county-wide the following November, to give Surrey's rural communities access to information to help tackle rural crime, has welcomed its latest member – its 1,500th.

Malcom Peckett from Warlingham is joining members of the scheme who receive message alerts via emails and SMS text messages about suspicious activity or incidents in their local area.

The alerts particularly focus on thefts, criminal damage, suspicious vehicles or people.

The Force says the team-up with rural residents enables officers to help prevent and detect crime, while scheme members can also use it to report criminal and suspicious activity.

Country Watch was trialled in Mole Valley and Tandridge districts for a couple of years before its Surrey-wide launch.

Its key importance was seen as linking Surrey Police local neighbourhood officers with farmers, landowners, game keepers, the equestrian community, wildlife officers and everyone else who works in the countryside.

With an emphasis on its use of modern technology, Country Watch is run as a tool to enable officers to inform scheme members effectively and quickly of emerging issues in their area. PC John Hockley, Surrey Police Rural Communities Officer, said: "Country Watch is an excellent scheme in deterring criminal activity in our rural and more sparsely populated areas.”

PC Hockley said: “It increases the number of ‘eyes and ears' in the county and significantly disrupts criminal activity.

"We strongly encourage members of the rural community to join the scheme.” He added: “Together we can prevent and deter crime to ensure our rural communities are safe and feel safe. It costs nothing to be alert.” A Surrey Police spokesman said: “Country Watch mutually benefits all its members and helps the police to act quickly on reported information and criminal or suspicious activity.” He said: “It has significantly increased intelligence about known offenders, their travelling habits, the vehicles they use, and has led to a number of arrests and recovery of property. “Latest crime prevention methods are shared with members and the equine community can now opt for the free saddle-marking service.” For more details about Country Watch and how to join, contact PC Hockley on 01483 637668, or email: