In response, NFU Vice President David Exwood said: “As the NFU Mutual’s report highlights, over the past 18 months highly organised gangs of criminals have continued to plague the British countryside, stealing livestock, high-value farm machinery and expensive GPS equipment, as well as trespassing on private land and regularly fly-tipping tons of rubbish.
“The huge increase we’ve seen in criminal activity is significantly impacting farm businesses and farming families both financially and emotionally, with many rural communities left feeling vulnerable and intimidated. All at a time when the industry is facing numerous other pressures, not least soaring production costs.
“Following months of hard work between the NFU, NFU Mutual, government and other industry organisations, it was pleasing to see the Equipment Theft Prevention Bill recently gain Royal Assent.
“This new legislation gives the Home Secretary wider powers to make regulations that will deter the theft and resale of quad bikes and ATVs. Fitting immobilisers and adding forensic markings will also ensure that owner details are registered to help make these essential farm vehicles less attractive for criminals to steal.
“There also needs to be much more of a collaborative approach to tackle rural crime. The National Rural Crime Unit is a great example of farmers, policymakers and police forces working together effectively at national and local level to examine ways of how UK farming businesses can be protected from criminal gangs.”
Notes to editor:
- The NFU Mutual Rural Crime Report reveals that:
- The cost of rural theft in the UK shot up 22% last year
- In its 2023 Rural Crime Report, published today (Tuesday 1 August), the UK’s leading rural insurer reveals that rural crime cost the UK an estimated £49.5m in 2022, up from £40.5m the previous year.
- The UK cost of GPS theft increased by 15% to £1.8m in 2022. However, the problem has sharply escalated in the first four months of 2023, with the cost of GPS theft doubling to over £500,000 compared to the same period last year.
- Meanwhile, in 2022, quad and ATV theft reported to NFU Mutual cost £3m nationally, a 34% rise on the previous year.