New figures from the leading rural insurer NFU Mutual show that ‘agri-crime’ cost an estimated £42.3 million across the UK during 2012, a reduction of 19.7% year-on-year.
Significantly smaller claims totals for tractor and quad bike thefts - down 32% and 17% respectively - have been identified as behind the findings.
In contrast, 2012 saw a slight increase in claims for livestock theft, but nothing like the three-fold increase experienced the previous year.
The figures were released today to coincide with the publication of the annual NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey, a nationwide survey of 220 of its branch offices located throughout the UK countryside. And they paint a fairy consistent picture, with the trend clear across most UK regions and ranging from -12% in the East of England to -32% in the Midlands. Only Scotland saw an increase year-on-year (+12%).
The Mutual’s Matthew Scott said: “It’s great news that after four years of rises rural crime fell significantly last year. The fall is a vindication of the tremendous efforts made by country people, police, NFU Mutual and agriculture vehicle manufacturers to improve security and beat crime.”
However, he warned against complacency.
“Rural crime is still taking place at significant levels. In 2013, whilst numbers of thefts are slowly declining, we have seen some worrying spikes in high value tractor thefts – and a recent spate of tractor GPS guidance system thefts showing that thieves will steal anything of value from farms.”
According to 220 NFU Mutual agencies surveyed the trend for items most commonly targeted by rural thieves remains largely unchanged with tools, quad bikes and oil/diesel again topping the list.
And while agencies suggest tractors and metal are less commonly targeted than last year, garden equipment makes a debut in the annual top ten list of targeted items, at number five.
For more information visit www.nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime.
* Thames Valley Police last week launched ‘100 days of action’ to tackle rural crime.
Each of its ten rural Local Policing Areas will hold ten days (five in summer, five in winter), of intensive operational and crime prevention activity to tackle crime in the countryside.Find out more and follow progress on the operation blog, here.
The main offences targeted will be hare coursing, poaching, theft from and of agricultural machinery and burglary of farm buildings (dwelling and non-dwelling).
Each of the LPAs will plan their activities around the rural crimes affecting their areas most.