Rural crime costs up 20%, says NFU Mutual

The cost of rural theft has risen sharply in the first half of 2017, despite some businesses ‘turning their farmyards into fortresses’.

Figures from NFU Mutual show a 20 per cent increase, prompting fears of a new wave of targeted crime in the countryside. The insurer’s Rural Crime Report tracked a four per cent decrease in costs nationally during 2016, with successful joint initiatives involving several police forces and improved on-farm security playing important roles. However, the £39.2 million claims total for 2016 will be outstripped by a substantial margin if the trend for January to June 2017 continues.

Tim Price, NFU Mutual’s rural affairs specialist, said criminals continue to target Land Rovers, quad bikes, tractors, tools and livestock. While the fall in rural theft in 2016 is welcome news, Mr Price said the the sharp rise in the first half of 2017 is “deeply worrying”.

He added: “Countryside criminals are becoming more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment. In some parts of the country, farmers are having to turn their farmyards into fortresses to protect themselves from repeated thieves who are targeting quads, tractors and power tools. They are using tracking devices on tractors, video and infra-red surveillance in their farmyards and even DNA markers to protect sheep from rustlers.”

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