Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Rural crime costs up 20pc despite 'fortress farms'

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

Lock your tractor or lose it - the cost of rural theft has risen sharply in the first half of 2017, despite some businesses ‘turning their farmyards into fortresses’, a new report has claimed.

New figures in the UK show a 20pc increase, prompting fears of a new wave of targeted crime in the countryside.

The insurer NFU Mutual’s Rural Crime Report tracked a 4pc decrease in costs nationally during 2016, with successful joint initiatives involving several police forces and improved on-farm security playing important roles.

But the £39.2m claims total for 2016 will be outstripped by a substantial margin if the trend for January to June 2017 continues.

It found that being ‘staked out’ is the biggest worry for country people, followed closely by longer police response times in rural areas, according to the leading rural insurer.

“While the fall in rural theft in 2016 is welcome news, the sharp rise in the first half of 2017 is deeply worrying,” said Tim Price, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist.

“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. They are using tracking devices on tractors, video and infra-red surveillance in their farmyards and even DNA markers to protect sheep from rustlers.”

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He also said that the threat of becoming a victim of rural crime, and regular reports of suspicious characters watching farms is causing high levels of anxiety amongst farmers who know their rural location makes them vulnerable to attacks.

The report found that quads and ATVs are disappearing from farms in large numbers – thanks to being easy to transport and lack of registration plates.


It found that when it comes to tractors, thieves are increasingly cloning the identity of tractors to make detection more difficult.

Thieves are stealing small, older tractors for export to third world countries as well as expensive large models.

Earlier this year 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.

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