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Vigilance pays off as rural crime drops by 20 per cent
AGRI-CRIME fell by almost 20 per cent in 2012 – but still cost the UK an estimated £42.3m.
NFU Mutual said the drop was due to a significant decline in tractor and quad bike thefts – down 32 per cent and 17 per cent respectively – which accounted for more than one third of all claims received by the rural insurer.
However, in Yorkshire and the North-East quad bikes, tools and agricultural machinery remained the favourite targets of criminals.
In Yorkshire agri-crime amounted to £3.4m while in Durham and Northumberland it totalled £760,000.
Stephen Dew, NFU Mutual agent in Skipton, said: “Even though rural crime has fallen, much more still needs to be done to thwart rural criminals and minise the devastating impact of crime in the countryside.”
Claire Sedgewick, NFU Mutual branch manager in Sedgefield, agreed but added: “We are starting to see the benefits from communities working hard with the police and wider industry. However, people shouldn’t become complacent; they need to make security a priority on their farms, businesses and homes.”
The annual survey showed a slight increase in claims for livestock theft – but nothing like the three-fold increase in 2011.
Matthew Scott, chief claims manager, said: “It’s great news that after four years of rises rural crime fell significantly last year. The fall is a vindication of the tremendous efforts made by country people, police, NFU Mutual and agriculture vehicle manufacturers to improve security and beat crime.”
But he said rural crime was still taking place at significant levels. “In 2013, while numbers of thefts are slowly declining, we have seen some worrying spikes in high-value tractor thefts – and a recent spate of tractor GPS guidance system thefts showing that thieves will steal anything of value from farms.”
The items most commonly targeted by rural thieves remains largely unchanged with tools, quad bikes and oil/diesel topping the list.
For the first time thefts of garden furniture, ornaments and stone appeared in the top ten list and the insurer has warned some thefts may be repeated within weeks as thieves return to take the replacements.
The survey indicated a belief that CCTV and tracker devices, more traditional locks, more effective policing and tougher sentencing of thieves would all help reduce crime.
But some more unusual defence systems have been adopted including geese to alert homeowners; keeping louder and more aggressive animals such as llamas with other livestock; installing fog machines to disorientate intruders; and retractable cattle grids.
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