Cost of rural crime hits £1m in Shropshire
Rural crime cost Shropshire more than £1 million last year – a rise of 13.2 per cent from 2017.
In its 2019 rural crime report, rural insurer NFU Mutual has assessed the impact that crime is having on rural communities up and down the UK.
Overall, it claims figures reveal that rural crime cost the UK £50m in 2018, an increase of 12 per cent on the previous year and the highest overall cost in seven years.
In Shropshire, it cost £1,230,000, according to the report.
The sharp rises are being driven mainly by high value thefts of tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles – up 26 per cent to £7.4m in 2018.
The items most commonly targeted by thieves across the Midlands over the last 12 months were tools, ATVs/quads and machinery.
Neil Wagstaff, NFU Mutual senior agent in Telford, said: “One of the most alarming findings from this year’s report is that fear of crime is changing life in the countryside.
“From constant reports of thefts and suspicious vehicles touring the countryside and rural criminals regularly staking out farms, country people feel they are under siege.
“The report further reveals that limited police resources and repeat attacks are the biggest fears for people in rural communities, with many forced to change the way they live and work as a result of rural crime.”
Mr Wagstaff said farmers are being forced to come up with new ways to protect their property, including installing infra-red beams which send alerts to mobile phones and geo-fencing, which triggers an alarm if tractors go beyond farm boundaries.
“Our advice to people living and working in the countryside is to regularly evaluate your current security measures making improvements where necessary, remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the local police and local farm watch schemes,” he added.
“The good news is that security technology is developing fast and we’re already clearly seeing that thieves avoid tractors fitted with good security kit and sheep that have been marked with microdots.
“Innovative use of social media to report criminal activity is also working well in some areas – and reducing isolation.
“There’s no doubt that when police, farmers and other rural organisations tackle rural crime in an organised way they get results.”