Rise in thefts prompts farmer warning

Farmers are being warned to be extra vigilant, as rising fuel prices have lead to a surge in diesel and oil thefts.

NFU Scotland said farmers should step up their security after a survey of union members revealed an increase of heating oil, diesel and tractor batteries being stolen over recent weeks.

Farm machinery, quad bikes and electric fencing have also been taken from farms in the country, while one farmer reported having 50 hay bales stolen since the start of the year.

Jim McLaren, NFUS president, said thefts were costing the industry millions of pounds a year and warned farmers to protect their property.

“Given the soaring costs now associated with fuel, animal feed and bedding, it is appropriate that farmers take a bit of time to check that fuel tanks, farm buildings and access to storage areas are made as secure as possible,” he said.

“At the same time, it is clear that any item that may have a value is open to theft. A quick survey of our members has shown that the threat extends from the largest tractor to something as simple as a tractor battery or an electric fence box. Although it takes time, it may be worth the effort of keeping all items under lock and key if possible.”

Mr McLaren said any unusual vehicles or suspicious people should be reported to the police immediately.

“Many police forces also have crime prevention officers who will be well-placed to advise on any additional protection measures farmers can consider,” he added.

“As a result of sheep rustling problems in Lothian and the Borders last spring, we now work in partnership with Lothian and Borders Police on thefts in the region, and many of our branches and regions now work closely with their local forces on rural crime.”