Fortified farms - Thorne Widgery

According to insurers NFU Mutual, farmers in the UK are resorting to ‘medieval’ methods to defend their land from thieves as rural crime is now costing them at least £40 million.

The latest figures from the insurer show a rise of 13.4 per cent in the cost of countryside crime in 2017, with livestock and tractor theft, amongst other crimes, rising at its fastest rate in eight years.

Farmers and rural residents are therefore turning to ‘medieval’ security methods to secure their land and property from increasingly “brazen” thieves, who carry out their crimes in 4×4 vehicles.

According to NFU Mutual’s Rural Crime report, police cuts and a rising workload are thought to be a cause of the increase, which reached a peak of £44.5 million last year.

The report found that Wales saw the sharpest rise in the cost of rural crime, reporting a 41 per cent jump on the previous year. Meanwhile, the North East, which saw a fall of 6.5 per cent, was the only region in England to experience a decrease.

Regionally, the cost of rural crime was up by 32 per cent in the Midlands and increased by 30 per cent in the South East. The West Midlands, Surrey and Northamptonshire were the counties which saw the biggest increases in the cost of rural theft.

Farmers are therefore backing up modern security measures, such as tracking devices, CCTV and motion sensors, with “protective animals” including llamas, geese and dogs employed as old-fashioned alarms. They are also putting up earth banks “last used to protect medieval manors” and stockade fences, amongst other defences, to deter tech-savvy burglars.

A spokesman for the insurer said that as farmers and rural residents are faced with repeated and determined attack, they are “turning to the history books” to re-purpose security measures from medieval times.