A new survey on rural crime by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) shows that most farmers have been victims of crime, with theft the single most common criminal issue for farmers.
Its survey, carried out in conjunction with Waterford Institute of Technology, shows that two thirds of farmers have been affected by crime since January 1, 2014.
The results show that of the 1,512 incidents of agricultural crime reported in the survey the majority of incidences related to vandalism/criminal damage/trespass (711 reported incidences), while theft (652 reported incidences) and criminal assault (76 reported incidences and fraud (73 reported incidences) were the most common issues.
According to the survey, 24.4pc of farmers reporting unauthorised shooting, hunting or fishing on their farm, while 21.1pc of farmers reported illegal dumping on their farms, while 19.1pc reported damage to vehicles, livestock, crops, machinery and buildings.
ICSA president Patrick Kent described the figures as startling. “The results of the survey reveal that the issue of agricultural crime is a far bigger issue than official Garda statistics would suggest.
"They would also suggest that the courts have adopted a far too lenient approach to offenders, particularly to repeat offenders. The rural community believes that the judicial system provides virtually no deterrent to this type of crime.”
The survey also found that 41pc had experienced theft on their farms between January 1, 2014 and May 31, 2016, with one fifth of theft relating to agricultural diesel. This is nearly twice the number of incidents of theft of electrical tools recorded which was the next highest type of theft.