Farmyards are being turned into fortresses to ward off “brazen thieves” amid a surge in crime in rural areas, figures show.
Insurance claims for rural crime have risen by more than 20 per cent in the six months to June, with insurers warning that emboldened criminals are forcing farmers to take extraordinary steps to protect their property – including the installation of tracking devices on their tractors.
Publishing its annual report on rural crime across the UK, NFU Mutual said that the surge contrasted with a £40m decline in claims last year, adding that the trend was “deeply worrying”.
Commenting on the figures, Tim Price, a rural affairs specialist at the firm, said: “While the fall in rural theft in 2016 is welcome news, the sharp rise in the first half of 2017 is deeply worrying.
“Countryside criminals are becoming more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.
“In some parts of the country, farmers are having to turn their farmyards into fortresses to protect themselves from repeated thieves who are targeting quads, tractors and power tools.”
Last year England bore the brunt of the criminal activity in rural areas, with total claims totalling just under £34m. Claims in Northern Ireland amounted to £2.5m, whilst those made in Wales came to £1.3m.
Farmers tools and specialist equipment were the most common items targeted, whilst more than £2m worth of quad bikes were stolen during the same period.
However, the costs of illegal cattle and livestock rustling continue to fall, down to £2.2m.