FARMERS IN Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland need to tighten up their security because the regions are fast becoming crime hotspots, according to rural insurer NFU Mutual.
The warning came as the company released the results of its annual crime survey on the opening day of the Royal Show (Jul 3).
The survey shows the cost of tractor and quad bike thefts rose by 73.4% in Northern Ireland, 68.7% in Wales and 39.1% in Scotland in 2004.
Thefts of tools and equipment from farms also rose in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“We believe we are seeing a shift to more organised crime as thieves target expensive quad bikes and tractors,” said Pamela Oldfield from NFU Mutual’s management division.
“Rural crime in Scotland and Northern Ireland has for many years been at much lower levels than England and Wales.
“These figures indicate that thieves are targeting areas where security has not been such a high priority as many parts of England and Wales.”
The point is supported by the crime figures for England which show a much smaller increase in the cost of tractor and bike thefts (up 7.2%).
Overall, NFU Mutual estimates that thefts of tractors, tools and equipment totalled £16m in 2004, a 3.2% fall from the previous year.