Farms become fortresses amid crime fears
RURAL crime cost Surrey a whopping £430,000 in 2016, forcing some farmers to “turn their farmyards into fortresses to protect themselves from repeated thieves”.
This is according to rural insurance company, NFU Mutual’s 2017 Rural Crime Report.
The study reveals that items most commonly targeted by the county’s thieves are tools, garden equipment, ATV (all terrain vehicles) and quad bikes.
In fact, the south east has the third highest rating across the country, with the north east topping the list at around £7.3 million.
The midlands is rated second with an estimated cost of £6.7 million, while Wales ranks the lowest with £1.3 million.
Perhaps surprisingly, Surrey’s figure is actually down 9% from £470,000 in 2015.
While this reflects a national decrease of 4%, the report goes on to state that rural theft across the country has risen sharply in the first half of 2017.
Early theft claims statistics this year show a nationwide rise of more than 20%, raising concerns of a “new wave of rural crime”.
According to Anthony Posnett, NFU Mutual Agent in Godalming, Surrey farmers are “having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.”
He said: “Although the figures for rural crime in Surrey are down, countryside criminals continue to become more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.
“In some parts of the county, 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 farm yards and even DNA markers to protect sheep from rustlers.”
The report reveals that being “staked out” is the biggest worry for farmers.
This is closely followed by longer police response times in rural areas as criminals continue to target Land Rover Defenders, quad bikes, tractors, tools and livestock despite increased security on farms.
Mr Posnett 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.”
To find out more on how to beat rural crime, visit www. nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime