Rural crime costs Shropshire nearly £1m a year

Rural crime cost county residents £1m last year according to experts.

Police said the recent rise reflected crime returning to pre pandemic levels
Police said the recent rise reflected crime returning to pre pandemic levels

NFU Mutual said that rural crime had dropped by 26 per cent in Shropshire during 2021, although the insurer has warned that thieves are making up for lost time in the pandemic with a 40 per cent rise in the first quarter of the year.

They have highlighted organised criminals 'plaguing farmyards' across the country by targeting high value Land Rover Defenders, quad bikes, all-terrain vehicles and trailers.

Neil Wagstaff, Senior Agent at NFU Mutual Telford, said: “Our latest claims figures warn that rural theft is quickly gathering momentum as criminals make up for time lost over the past two pandemic years. We’re advising rural people to review their security, to help prevent crime and disruption."

Mr Wagstaff has also warned that the cost of living crisis and the rise in energy prices are likely to make farms more attractive to criminals.

He said: “With prices of essential farm equipment such as tractors and quads rising fast and the cost of diesel soaring over the past year, there’s little doubt that criminals will be trying to steal from farms.

"We also know that essentials of rural living like heating oil tanks will only become more attractive to thieves as costs rise.

He added: “Crime in the countryside causes high levels of anxiety and disruption, with many farmers and rural homeowners feeling vulnerable due to their isolated location. The knowledge that determined thieves are scouring the countryside looking for targets, and returning to carry out night-time raids, leads to sleepless nights for many in remote areas."

West Mercia Police said the rise reflected the increase in crime to pre-Covid levels – a pattern which has been seen across a number of types of offences.

Superintendent Edward Hancox, Head of Prevention for West Mercia Police, said the force had been carrying out a number of measures in an effort to cut down on rural crime.

He said: "These figures reflect a return to pre-Covid levels and are reflective of the situation across the UK.

"Throughout the past year we have continued to focus on tackling rural crimes by increasing our number of schemes across the force area, including Neighbourhood Watch and Rural Watch, which allows communities to provide intelligence to officers to help prevent such crimes.

“The force has also introduced dedicated Rural and Business Crime Officers across West Mercia who are able to support our Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

"We are also working closely with partner agencies and continue with initiatives such as 'We Don’t Buy Crime' and the use of forensic marking with Smartwater, which has proven to be an effective deterrent against acquisitive crime.

“We continue to work hard to bring crime down below pre-Covid levels as we go forward and West Mercia Police continues to be committed to preventing and detecting crime, and protecting communities from harm.

“I would encourage anyone concerned to find out more by signing up for regular alerts in their area by visiting Neighbourhoodmatters.co.uk.”

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