The cost of rural crime is on the rise in counties across Banburyshire with thieves particularly stealing vehicles, tools and machinery, a report revealed today (Monday, August 6).
NFU Mutual’s annual report shows rural crime cost Warwickshire more than £1.1m, Northamptonshire over £975,000 and Oxfordshire nearly £630,000 in 2017.
Northants saw the biggest increase from 2016, 77.5 per cent, while Warks’ rise was 30.9 per cent and Oxon’s 7.7 per cent – the UK average was 13.4 per cent.
Andrew Duffy, NFU Mutual senior agent in Oxfordshire, said: “Countryside criminals continue to become more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.
“Social media is fast becoming the new eyes and ears of the countryside. By keeping in close touch with neighbours and police through local farmwatch schemes country people can play a significant role in identifying suspicious activity and bringing thieves to justice.
“Fitting gates to prevent easy access to farm yards and drives is one of the most effective measures. High-tech security such as movement detectors, infra-red cameras and ‘geo-fencing’, which triggers an alarm if a farm vehicle moves off the premises, can also play a part.”
The report further reveals that limited police resources and repeat attacks are the biggest fears for people in rural communities, with many forced to change the way they live and work as a result of rural crime.
Mr Duffy added: “The threat of becoming a victim of rural crime, and regular reports of suspicious characters watching farms is causing high levels of anxiety amongst farmers who know their rural location makes them vulnerable to attacks.
“We are working closely with police to identify preventative measures and to educate the rural community on how best to protect their property and possessions.
“Our advice to people living and working in the countryside is to regularly evaluate your current security measures making improvements where necessary, remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the local police and local farm watch schemes.”
To protect their crops and keep criminals off their land, an increasing number of farmers are bolstering modern security measures with medieval methods seen centuries ago, such as ditches, reinforced gates and protective animals.
NFU Mutual has responded to its members’ concerns about rural crime by supporting local and national rural security initiatives and investing more than £1.2m to tackle the menace of rural crime.
For more information and advice on how to beat rural crime in your area download the report at www.nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime