The true cost of rural crime across Yorkshire revealed

The cost of rural crime across Yorkshire has been revealed.
The cost of rural crime across Yorkshire has been revealed.
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Rural crime across Yorkshire's countrysides has cost nearly £4 million latest figures can today reveal, with ATVs/quads, machinery and fuel the items most commonly targeted by thieves.

The 2019 Rural Crime Report, published by rural insurer NFU Mutual has also revealed many farmers are so concerned about the risk of crime they can no longer leave the farm to attend local agricultural shows.

The figures reveal North Yorkshire is the hardest hit in the county with rural crime costing £1.8m in 2018 - a staggering 80 per cent rise on the previous year.

West Yorkshire is a close second with rural crime costing £1.5m, a fall from £1.7m in 2017.

Rural crime cost South Yorkshire more than £675,000 last year, a rise of 4.9 per cent from 2017.

NFU Mutual claims rural crime cost the UK £50m in 2018, an increase of 12 per cent on the previous years and the highest overall cost in seven years.

Matthew Gummerson, NFU Mutual Agent in Honley, said: "The countryside is facing a major challenge from organised criminals and it’s vital that police, farmers and rural businesses remain vigilant.

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“One of the most alarming findings from this year’s report is that fear of crime is changing life in the countryside. From constant reports of thefts and suspicious vehicles touring the countryside and rural criminals regularly staking out farms, country people feel they are under siege.

“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.

“Repeat attacks are causing widespread anxiety and exacerbating the problems of rural isolation amongst farmers who often work alone all day. Some farmers are so concerned about the risk of criminal attack they can no longer leave the farm with their family to attend local agricultural shows.

The Rural Crime Report reveals the cost of quad and ATV theft claims to NFU Mutual rose by 10 per cent, from £2.3m in 2017 to £2.6m in 2018, while the cost of agricultural vehicle theft claims rose by 26 per cent, from £5.9m in 2017 to £7.4m in 2018.

Thieves are believed to be cloning the identity of tractors to make detection more difficult.

They are also targeting expensive tractors, costing over £50,000 to export overseas.

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But, NFU Mutual has said modern technology is allowing farmers to fight back and keep one step ahead of thieves.

Mr Gummerson said: "Together with digging ditches and putting up earth banks to prevent criminals getting on to farm land, we’re seeing electronic devices like infra-red beams which send alerts to mobile phones and geo-fencing, which triggers an alarm if tractors go beyond farm boundaries.

"These technologies are proving to be effective weapons in the fight against rural crime. This is increasingly important because today’s determined thieves come armed with battery-powered angle grinders which can cut through chains and padlocks in seconds to access farm buildings and tool sheds.”

The cost of livestock theft reported to NFU Mutual increased to £2.5m in 2018.

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The thefts of large number of lambs are raising concerns that stock is being stolen for slaughter and processing outside regulated abattoirs before illegally entering the food chain.

Mr Gummerson said: “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.

“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.

“The good news is that security technology is developing fast and we’re already clearly seeing that thieves avoid tractors fitted with good security kit and sheep that have been marked with microdots. Innovative use of social media to report criminal activity is also working well in some areas - and reducing isolation.

"There’s no doubt that when police, farmers and other rural organisations tackle rural crime in an organised way they get results.”