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Cambridgeshire rural crime cost £1.7m in 2018 NFU Mutual report reveals




Rural crime cost Cambridgeshire more than £1,722,000 last year, making it the fifth worst affected county by cost in the UK, and rising 0.3 per cent from 2017.

In its 2019 Rural Crime Report, published today (August 5), leading rural insurer NFU Mutual looks at the impact that crime is having on rural communities up and down the UK.

Overall, its 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. 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.

Cambridgeshire has a Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) dedicated to tackling rural crime.
Cambridgeshire has a Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) dedicated to tackling rural crime.

The items most commonly targeted by thieves across the East over the last 12 months were tools, garden equipment and machinery.

Catherine Little, NFU Mutual Agent in Greater Peterborough, 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.

Cambridgeshire was ranked fifth in terms of the cost of rural crime in 2018.
Cambridgeshire was ranked fifth in terms of the cost of rural crime in 2018.

“Repeat attacks are causing widespread anxiety and exacerbating the problems of rural isolation amongst farmers who often work alone all day. Some farmers are so concerned about the risk of criminal attack they can no longer leave the farm with their family to attend local agricultural shows.

“Farmers are combining modern technology with physical fortifications to try and keep one step ahead of the thieves. Together with digging ditches and putting up earth banks to prevent criminals getting on to farm land, we’re seeing electronic devices like infra-red beams which send alerts to mobile phones and geo-fencing, which triggers an alarm if tractors go beyond farm boundaries. These technologies are proving to be effective weapons in the fight against rural crime. This is increasingly important because today’s determined thieves come armed with battery-powered angle grinders which can cut through chains and padlocks in seconds to access farm buildings and tool sheds.”

Catherine adds, “The threat of becoming a victim of rural crime, and regular reports of suspicious characters watching farms is causing high levels of anxiety amongst farmers who know their rural location makes them vulnerable to attacks.

“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 Countryside watch schemes.

“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.”

As the main insurer of the countryside, NFU Mutual has responded to its members’ concerns and has invested more than £1.5m to tackle the menace of rural crime.

NFU Mutual funds a specialist agricultural vehicle police officer through the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) coordinating farm machinery theft intelligence between NFU Mutual, police forces, Border Force and Interpol.

NFU Mutual’s figures are used by police forces to help them understand rural crime on their patch and plan rural police responses. It also provides support and expert advice to many local farm and rural watch schemes.

For more information and advice on how to beat rural crime in your area download the report at www.nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime.

Rural Crime Trends

Quads and ATVS

Quads and ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) are disappearing from farms in large numbers – thanks to being easy to transport and lack of registration plates

The cost of Quad and ATV theft claims to NFU Mutual rose from £2.3m in 2017 to £2.6m in 2018 – a rise of 10 per cent

Bespoke physical security devices, such as Quad Vice, can deter all but the most determined thieves

CESAR marking and tracking devices are the most effective security measures, once basic measures of keeping vehicles out of sight in a building with the machine secured have been addressed

Tractors

The cost of agricultural vehicle theft claims to NFU Mutual rose by 26 per cent from £5.9m in 2017 to £7.4m in 2018

Thieves are increasingly cloning the identity of tractors to make detection more difficult

Thieves are stealing expensive tractorscosting over £50,000 for export to developed counties and small, older tractors to export to third world countries

NFU Mutual goes to extreme lengths to trace and recover stolen tractors which have been exported to send a strong message to thieves

Livestock

The cost of livestock theft reported to NFU Mutual increased by 3.7 per cent from £2.4m in 2017 to £2.5m in 2018

Technology - including DNA testing, fleece marking with micro-dots, electronic chips and boluses - now offers robust evidence to help bring rustlers to justice

Thefts of large numbers of lambs are raising concerns that stock is being stolen for slaughter and processing outside regulated abattoirs before illegally entering the food chain



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