A CONMAN who staggered up a country lane pretending to have a heart attack was one of two men attempting to hijack a farmer’s tractor.

Alex Digby was driving along Manor House Lane in Higher Heath, near Whitchurch, Shropshire, on Sunday evening when he spotted a stranger wobbling across the road and clutching his chest.

Concerned for the man’s wellbeing, Mr Digby slowed down with the intention of helping a man who appeared to be fighting for his life.

But just as the farmer prepared to jump out of his cab to assist, a second man leapt at him from out of a hedge and tried hijacking the nearly-new John Deere R6140, worth £70,000.

Shocked by the tractor-jacking attempt the quick-thinking Mr Digby slammed the tractor into gear and sped off as quickly as possible, resulting in the foiled thief losing his balance and falling back into a ditch.

“When someone seems to be in trouble your instinct is to help,” explained Mr Digby’s boss, Nigel Vickers, of Mulsford Farm, Malpas.

“It was a nasty incident and Alex and all our team have been shaken up by this.”

Arable farmer Mr Vickers is now warning other tractor drivers to be aware of the scam and to contact the police if they see anything suspicious.

He said: “Police tell me that this sort of crime is not uncommon because newish tractors have microchipped ignition keys which must relate to a specific tractor, so therefore thieves try and steal tractors with keys in them.

“People need to be aware of the scam and know to contact the police if they see anything suspicious.”

A spokesperson for West Mercia Police confirmed they attended the attempted hijacking scene shortly after the incident took place at 9.30pm on Sunday, July 27 and searched the area, to no avail.

The police spokesperson added: “Plant theft is not a significant problem.”

The men are both described as being of large build and wearing jeans, one with an orange/red top and the other a brown top.

Anyone with information that can assist the police should contact 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.