Northern Ireland farms reeling from almost €3m costs of crime
Worried farmers are braced for new wave of rural crime
Farms are being turned into fortresses after rural crime cost the sector a huge €2.7m (£2.5m) last year, according to the latest statistics.
The figure is down almost 15pc from £3m the year before, but with margins in the sector at their tightest in years, it's a cost many in the industry can't afford.
Worryingly, the statistics show rural theft costs fell 4pc nationally in 2016, but have risen sharply by more than 20pc in the first half of 2017.
The figures form part of NFU Mutual's annual Rural Crime Report, published today and come after an ICSA/WIT report on rural crime in Ireland showed that 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.
That 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.
Today's report found that quad bikes, livestock and tools top thieves' wish-lists, but despite increased security, criminals are also continuing to target Land Rover Defenders, tractors, and livestock.
In Co Antrim alone the cost of rural crime was a staggering £903,884.
The NFU report said it raises concerns that a "new wave of rural crime is hitting the countryside".