Rural insurer NFU Mutual has said there has been a sharp rise in farm thefts in the past 12 months to warn country people need to take effective security measures.

NFU Mutual’s annual rural crime survey, released at the Royal Show on Monday ( 2 July) shows the cost of farm equipment theft across the UK rose by 16.5% while the cost of tractor thefts rose by 5.5%.

Scotland and Wales suffered the most alarming increases with tractor theft up 136% in Wales and 54% in Scotland.

In England, tractor and farm machinery theft fell by 7.2% compared with 2006 but the cost of thefts of tools and equipment rose by 13.1%. 

In Northern Ireland, tractor and farm machinery theft fell by 34% compared with 2006 but the cost of thefts of tools and equipment rose by 4%. 

Livestock rustling also increased, with reported claims across the UK costing a total of £1,010,000 in 2006 compared to £570,000 in 2005.

Terry Price, of NFU Mutual risk management services said: “These figures – and particularly the sharp rises in Wales and Scotland – are a major worry for people who live or work in the countryside.

“We’re now seeing more opportunistic theft taking place – would be criminals cruising the countryside looking for the chance to take high value portable items which they can sell on for a few pounds.

“That’s the reason we are seeing so many thefts of power tools and garden machinery from workshops and sheds.”

He said that increased numbers of thefts of high value machinery – including tractors and quad bikes – had impacted on the tractor theft figures. Rising diesel prices had also led to an increase in attacks on farm storage tanks. 

Sharp rises in scrap metal prices had also led to an increase in thefts of items such as aluminium irrigation pipes.

In addition to fitting and using good quality locks on doors and windows, and installing alarms and security lighting in vulnerable areas, he recommended people take a look at the impression their property would give a would-be thief from the road way.

“Warning signs, locked gates and evidence of alarms and security lights all help to persuade opportunist thieves to try their luck elsewhere. 

“Equally the presence of a barking dog, geese, a noisy gravel drive and prickly bushes around ground floor windows can be an effective deterrent.”

For more stories from the Royal Show see our special report page.

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