Shropshire farms shouldn't be seen as 'soft target for criminals' says union adviser

Farms in Shropshire should not be seen as a 'soft target for criminals', a NFU adviser said this week.

Farmers are advised to keep gates closed
Farmers are advised to keep gates closed

The message, from NFU Shropshire adviser Edward Garratt, comes as farmers were urged to increase security as darker winter nights enable criminals to raid the countryside unseen.

Mr Garratt said the union had made rural crime a key priority as it was always high on the agenda when he spoke to farmers.

The NFU also sits on the executive board of The National Rural Crime Network as its only farming representative and has consistently called for dedicated rural police teams to better protect already isolated and vulnerable areas.

Mr Garratt said: “Rural crime is a big problem for Shropshire farmers, some of whom have been victims of arson, vandalism and burglary but also everything from vehicle and livestock theft right through to hare coursing and fly-tipping.

“Our farms should not be seen as a soft target for criminals and with rural crime costing millions every year, the NFU continues to lobby Government and the Home Office.

“We meet officers regularly and hold events, including at Oswestry and Shrewsbury Livestock markets, to engage with farmers and look at ways they can protect machinery and beef up security.

“We would urge people to report anything unusual to officers or contact Crimestoppers anonymously if they have information.”

His message came as a recent poll by rural insurers NFU Mutual found 89 per cent of respondents believed that inflation would lead to an increase in rural crime.

The insurers said claims for thefts reveal farm vehicles, including tractors, quad bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) pick-up trucks, and Land Rover Defenders, are all targets for rural thieves.

Increases in the prices of diesel, heating oil, fertiliser and machinery are also making farms more attractive targets for criminals.

Advice given to farmers includes locking outbuildings at night and carrying out regular security checks during colder months as well as closing and locking yard gates at night to deter drive-through thieves.

Farmers are also advised to ensure security lighting, intruder alarms and cameras are working correctly and to store diesel and heating oil in tanks away from the public gaze, while considering a fuel tank alarm.

Storing fertiliser in a secure building and keeping portable tools such as chainsaws, jet washers and welders in a secure locked ‘cage’ are also advised, as is joining a local farm watch group or WhatsApp network to keep updated about local rural crime trends and suspicious sightings.

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