£1.6m rural crime wave: Farms turned into hi-tech fortresses with DNA markers and infra-red cameras as thieves target quad bikes, tractors and sheep

The cost of rural crime in Gloucestershire has been laid bare in shocking new figures published today.

They show crimes in the countryside cost the county £1.6m in 2016 – a huge 38 per cent rise on 2015.

The figures, part of NFU Mutual’s annual Rural Crime Report, reveal that despite the UK seeing a four per cent drop last year, the cost of rural theft has risen sharply in the first half of 2017.

According to NFU Mutual’s 2017 Rural Crime Report, early theft claims statistics for the first half of this year show a sharp rise of over 20 per cent nationally, raising concerns that a new wave of rural crime is hitting the countryside.

The items most commonly targeted by thieves across Gloucestershire over the last 12 months were ATV (all terrain vehicles) and quad bikes, tools and oil and diesel.

Farmers are facing a huge rise in crime

Richard Carter, NFU Mutual Agent in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, said: “Rural crime in Gloucestershire has risen dramatically during the last 12 months, as 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 county, 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 farm yards and even DNA markers to protect sheep from rustlers.”

The report reveals 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.

Criminals continue to target Land Rover Defenders, quad bikes, tractors, tools and livestock despite increased security on farms.

Richard adds, “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.

“Our advice to people living and working in the countryside is to regularly evaluate your current security measures making improvements where necessary, remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the local police and local farm watch schemes.”

For more information and advice on how to beat rural crime, download the report at www.nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime

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