Hooded man steals fuel from farmyard© FLPA / John Eveson/REX

Crime remains a persistent problem for rural communities – despite emerging signs of a downward trend, insurer NFU Mutual has warned.

Rural theft cost the UK economy £44.5m in 2013, up 5.2% from £42.3m the previous year, according to NFU Mutual’s most recent Rural Crime Survey.

But initial figures for 2014 suggest a slight improvement – although that data will not be published until August 2015.

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NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Tim Price said: “After several years of steep rises, initial claims data for 2014 indicates a downward trend in rural crime.”

This was great news for the countryside and an endorsement of efforts being made to increase security and raise awareness of rural crime, said Mr Price.

“After several years of steep rises, initial claims data for 2014 indicates a downward trend in rural crime.”
Tim Price, NFU Mutual

But he added: “Nevertheless, crime remains a persistent problem for our rural communities and there’s no room for complacency.”

Police and industry leaders will come together to discuss ways of combatting rural crime during a special seminar later this month.

The National Rural Crime Seminar, taking place Wednesday, 15 April, at the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihill, in the West Midlands.

The annual event, now in its fourth year, brings together a range of partners from police, communities and business, to coordinate action against rural crime.

NFU Mutual is sponsoring the seminar.

Dyfed chief constable Simon Prince, who is the national policing lead for rural and wildlife crime, said the insurer’s farming connections gave it a unique insight into the challenge of rural crime.

Mr Prince said: “The rural crime seminar is a unique opportunity to bring together a range of people who can make a real difference to rural crime.”