Farms be­come fortresses amid crime fears

Surrey Advertiser - - Front Page -

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

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