12 July 2001
Tighter farm security pays off
By Donald MacPhail
THE cost of farm theft insurance claims has fallen more than seven per cent in the past year, according to new figures from National Farmers Union Mutual.
But despite this drop, most country people believe rural crime is making the countryside a more dangerous place to live in, a survey for NFU Mutual found.
Concerns were voiced by 65% of the 200 rural businesses questioned. More than 30% had been victims of theft in the past year, and 68% in the last five years.
The survey also showed that country people were improving security on their premises.
In the last three years, over 55.5% had fitted better locks; 42% installed floodlighting and 25.5% had fitted alarm systems.
According to NFU Mutuals claims experience, improved security helped see the cost of claims from farms in the UK fall by 7.2% in 2000.
The estimated cost of farm crime dealt with by the NFU Mutual dropped from 16m in 1999 to 14.9m in 2000.
East Anglia showed the biggest drop of 23.8% from 480,000 in 1999 to 360,000 in 2000.
The biggest increase was recorded in the south west where the estimated cost rose from 400,000 to 520,000.
The overall drop was welcomed by NFU mutual risk management services director Pamela Oldfield, but she warned against complacency.
“The cost of rural crime rose very steeply in the 10 years from 1989 to 1999, and country people are still experiencing much higher levels of crime than a decade ago.”
She said that thieves are increasingly targeting country homes and 4×4 vehicles as security improves in urban areas.
Countryside groups have long argued that the remoteness of rural communities and the isolation of homes make them easy prey for burglars
The issue gained national prominence when Norfolk farmer Tony Martin was jailed for life in 1999 for murdering 16-year-old burglar Fred Barras during a break-in.
But the British Crime Survey published last year found that rural dwellers are half as likely to be victims of some major types of crime as adults in urban areas.
In 1999 nationally 4.3% of households experienced a burglary or attempted burglary, while in rural areas the figure was 2.6%.
- Country twice as safe as towns, FWi, 17 October, 2000
- Rural crime climbs – but not on farms, FWi, 3 July, 2000
- Gill calls for rural crime talks, FWi, 16 June, 2000
- SAS to help fight rural crime, FWi, 05 July, 1999
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