Rural insurer NFU Mutual has announced that farmers lost £50 million through left in 2018, which is the highest figure for seven years. Moreover, the number of claims for stolen farmer vehicles increased considerably by 26 per cent.
The theft of farm vehicles such as tractors and quad-bikes rose to £7.4 million last year, while animal theft claims rose by 3.7 per cent to £2.5 million over the same period.
According to the insurer, the rise in criminals targeting farms has led to increased levels of anxiety and isolation amongst farmers, who in a single generation have seen rural crime change from the opportunist theft of a single lamb, to brazen heists of tractors worth over £100,000 and rustlers stealing hundreds of sheep.
The criminals take advantage of farms’ isolated locations to steal machinery, raid tool stores and even butcher sheep in the fields, and many farmers have to deal with these problems multiple times.
NFU Mutual said that some rural communities feel “under siege” by repeated crime activity but are turning to technology to increase security in their sometimes-isolated locations.
New security innovations include as geo-fencing, which is an alarm system which lets farmers know if tractors go beyond farm boundaries, and livestock marking which involves farmers putting thousands of micro-dots into animals’ fleeces to help them track the whereabouts of their animals.
A spokesman for the insurer said that while the rise in the cost of rural theft is a huge disappointment, the organisation is convinced it would be much higher without the investment in rural security by thousands of farmers and high commitment from many police forces to fight rural crime.