Tractor theft continued to fall in 2012, whereas livestock rustling is soaring, according to latest figures from rural insurer NFU Mutual.

For the first nine months of 2012, tractor theft cost the insurer £4.5m, compared with £5m for the same period in 2011 and £7m in 2010.

Livestock rustling has reached new heights in the past year, rising by a massive 70% in 2011 in a single year in the UK.

High meat prices and improved security on farm vehicles appeared to be driving the rise in livestock rustling, said Tim Price, NFU Mutual rural affairs spokesman.

“The success of manufacturers starting to fit Cesar identification system as standard and unique ignition keys in tractors means thieves are switching their attention to stealing livestock,” he explained.

However, farmers are fighting back against criminals by introducing novel farm security measures.

Hampshire farmer Rob Gardner dug trenches around his farm to keep poachers off his land.

But Berkshire farmer Colin Rayner, who built a 7ft high metal barricade around his fields to keep out joyriders, took it down after thieves stole 15 of the metal fencing panels.

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See our rural crime page to read news about rural and farm crime and tips and advice on how to avoid falling victim on your farm.