The latest countryside crime data produced by NFU Mutual reveals the cost and impact of crime on rural communities across the country.
The Rural Crime report produced but the insurer reports a 22% increase in the cost of crime last year. more than two thirds of NFU’s agents reported farmers who had been victims of crime on repeat occasions. This leaves people feeling vulnerable both at home and at work.
The Financial Cost of Countryside Crime
The overall cost of rural crime was £49.5 million in 2022. Farmers and people living in rural communities are facing crimes including quad and agricultural vehicle theft, trailers, Landrover and GPS theft which total £21.8 million.
86% of NFU agents believe thieves are benefiting from the current nationwide limited supply of vehicles and rising prices.
It’s not only the vehicles, but also fuel. Fuel is commonly stored in rural homes and on farms for heating purposes as well as running farm vehicles. The cost of living crisis and the cost of fuel has made this a tempting target for thieves. Fuel theft is costly and disruptive. It can halt vital works and, in winter, leave families without heating.
In addition, farmers continue to face livestock theft, which again rose 8% in the last year. The NFU classes livestock theft as “one of the costliest crimes to farming”. This is down to the number of livestock which can be stolen in one raid, the impact it has on breeding lines, and the stress caused to farmers. Livestock also faces the threat of dog attacks. These have greatly increased due to the “puppy boom” seen during the pandemic. A survey found that 2 in 5 dog owners admit their pets don’t always come back when called. It’s estimated that £1.8 million worth of UK farm animals were killed or injured by dogs in 2022. This is a 50% increase on pre pandemic numbers.
Looking at the local picture, both North and West Yorkshire make the top ten. Unfortunately this isn’t a list any are wants to score highly on. Last year the cost of crime in both areas was very similar at just over £900k. This year West Yorkshire saw a 54% increase in the cost of crime, whilst the cost of rural crime in North Yorkshire more than doubled to £1.9 million.
Protecting Farms from Countryside Crime
Whilst the figures in the report are shocking, the NFU has put a big focus on the proactive measures being taken by those living and working in rural communities to protect their property. These include physical measures such as locking away high value items, technical measures like installing CCTV and security alarm systems and social measures like participating in local groups like Farm Watch and Rural Watch schemes.