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Independent.ie

Saturday 21 April 2018

Farmers hit by crime pay €900 more for insurance

A new report from the ICSA reveals the financial impact of rural crime

Rural crime is costing victims thousands. Photo: Garry O'Neill
Rural crime is costing victims thousands. Photo: Garry O'Neill
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

The trust of rural society has been shattered by a spate of robberies and burglaries across the countryside, a judge has warned.

Property from five different farms was uncovered as gardaí arrested three men after a significant garda surveillance operation.

Sentencing the men, Judge Keenan Johnson warned that robberies and burglaries were an "attack on the foundations of rural society".

He said the trust that saw farm machinery, livestock and tools left unsecured in sheds was now "completely and utterly shattered".

The judge's comments came in the same week that hundreds of farmers and self-employed workers travelled to Nenagh, Co Tipperary to a property recovery day organised by the gardaí.

The tales of those present, mirrored the statistics revealed in the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) and Waterford Institute of Technology's latest report on rural crime.

Diesel

And Judge Keenan's comments rang true for dairy farmer Bill Carroll whose farm near Clonmel was robbed at night with €5,000 of veterinary doses, tools and equipment stolen.

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Mr Carroll said crime was now "part of life" in the countryside. His farm was robbed of diesel three times over the Christmas period and he also had a quad stolen a few years ago. "It just seems to be part of doing business in this country," said the former Glanbia board member.

"They are organised and come into an area and have it cased out for 24 hours beforehand."

The ICSA/WIT survey compiled by Dr Kathleen Moore Walsh and Louise Walsh found four out of 10 farmers were the victims of "chronic" and repeat attacks on their property, with the average value of the goods stolen in a single incident at €1,818.

The report found the financial costs of agricultural crime is likely to be underestimated and under-reported.

And it put the cost of rural crime at €2.4m, or an average of €4,300 for each victim.

Over 800 farmers were surveyed from January 2014 to May 2016 with two-thirds reporting being the victims of crime. Machinery and equipment theft accounted for almost half of the figures, with smaller items such as tools accounting for a third of the items stolen.

Burden

"We now have proof that agricultural crime is hitting farmers' pockets at a time when most are struggling to make ends meet at all," said ICSA president Patrick Kent.

"It is an unacceptable burden and one that cannot be written off as a part and parcel of life in rural Ireland.

"Theft, vandalism and fly-tipping all have serious cost implications for farmers, as do increased insurance premiums associated when farmers have to make a claim.

"The report is hugely important as determining the costs of agricultural crime provides the justification for spending scarce resources on tackling the issue."

The ICSA say the whole fabric of rural society was changing as many of those who were victims of crime reported now feeling "fearful."

"As well as the financial cost, there is also the unseen cost of fear and stress caused when your home or farm has been targeted by criminals," said ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock. "Nobody should have to live in a state of constant fear and anxiety."

Many farmers have been forced to stop storing diesel as they felt they were luring in thieves, with the survey figures revealing diesel and oil thefts were the most common.

The average value of diesel stolen each time was €560.

Farmers have also reported falling victim to fraud, with some reporting they were sold a stolen farm good at a cost of €360 on average, while others fell for forged documents at a cost of over €12,000.

Farmers reported the cost of insurance came in at around €2,040, yet those who were victims of crime were paying out an additional €900 for insurance.

The ICSA survey also found that many farmers were reluctant to report thefts due to the risk of rising insurance premiums. It found farmers were willing to swallow the cost of thefts up to an average of €1,771 rather than report it.


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