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Countryside crime rise


12:01am 8th August 2011

Criminals are systematically targeting farms across Yorkshire and the North East with a 12% rise in ‘agri-crime’ in 2010.

New figures from the UK’s leading rural insurer NFU Mutual, reveal that the rise in theft to agriculture in north eastern areas of the country is estimated to have cost £9.2 million in 2010. This reflects a nationwide trend where almost two thirds (62%) of NFU Mutual branches reported an increase in rural crime in their area.

While nationally, thieves have targeted expensive tractors, heating oil, scrap metal and livestock, the theft of power tools such as chainsaws, lawnmowers and jet-washers topped the list of items targeted by rural criminals in Yorkshire. Tractors came in second followed by the theft of quad bikes.

The NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey is based on the 2010 claims experience of its network of branch offices located in rural towns and villages. Unlike some other crime reports, NFU Mutual’s survey includes claims for crimes against homes, farms, commercial premises and vehicles.

There is little sign of rural crime slowing as the countryside continues to prove difficult to police and attitudes towards security remain relaxed.

When asked about the main reason thieves target the countryside, 41% of branches said the fact it was such a sparse area made it difficult to police, with 32% claiming there was less chance of thieves being seen. 23% thought relaxed attitudes towards to security measures could also be a factor.

59% of NFU Mutual branches believe that the most common time of day for thieves to act is during the night (midnight – 6am). 59% also reported that thefts from farms or outbuildings was the biggest problem in their area, while 12% said garden sheds and garages have proven tempting for thieves.

Commenting on the issue of rural crime Andrew Moss, NFU Mutual Agent in Beverley, said:

“People living and working in rural areas of Yorkshire need to be vigilant and keep working with police and local communities to help fight rural crime.

“Highly organised thieves don’t just target tractors, Landrovers and farm machinery, they can also make money from items like quad bikes and power tools that can be stolen and sold on in the blink of an eye.

“There is no substitute for good physical security: strong locks, security lighting and maybe even a dog. It’s all about taking small steps to make life much harder for rural criminals and making outbuildings more secure is an effective deterrent.

“Taking the time to mark your more valuable items will make it much easier return property should it ever get stolen. Unless they are marked and identifiable, many farm and household items can be difficult to trace but very simple for criminals to sell.”

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