Police are investigating a rise in reports of 'super scrumpers' - thieves plundering farms, orchards and gardens for crops of apples, plums and pears.

Officers say organised teams are stealing in at dawn and raiding fruit stocks before making off in vehicles.

Scrumping has happened for centuries but is more associated with people taking windfalls which are laying on the ground or the small apples left on trees.

But farmers in Somerset, including one in Failand, says he has witnessed thieves stealing large amounts of fruit from his 400-acre.

He says it must be organised crime as they appeared to know the ripe fruit to take.

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One farmer added that a neighbourhood watch is in place but he was still losing hundreds of pounds of stock.

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Constabulary confirmed officers had been asked to probe the issue, which is also said to be affecting private gardens.

They added: "We'd ask anyone to contact us about any crime they witness or experience. If it is a non-emergency matter then report it online or on 101.

"If we don't know about the crime, then we can't investigate it and we then might not be aware of a developing issue within a community.

"We'd recommend those in the farming community sign up for Farm Watch."