Cost of rural crime falls by nearly 20%

cowsCriminals are leaving the countryside. Rural insurer NFU Mutual has reported that the cost of rural theft was down 19.7% to an estimated £42.3m during 2012.

The big drop was in tractor and quad bike thefts, which accounted for more than one third of the cost of all NFU Mutual thefts claims, down 32% and 17% respectively.

Animal farm

In contrast 2012 saw a slight increase in NFU Mutual claim levels for livestock theft, but nothing like the three-fold increase experienced the previous year.

The figures, based on claims data, have been released to coincide with the publication of the annual NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey, a nationwide survey of 220 of its branch offices located throughout the UK countryside. Unlike other crime reports, NFU Mutual's includes claims for crimes against rural homes, farms, commercial premises and vehicles.

Matthew Scott, chief claims manager at NFU Mutual, said: "It's great news that after four years of rises rural crime fell significantly last year. The fall is a vindication of the tremendous efforts made by country people, police, NFU Mutual and agriculture vehicle manufacturers to improve security and beat crime."

No room for complacency

He warned country people not to become complacent and continue to make security a priority on their farms, businesses and homes.

"Rural crime is still taking place at significant levels. In 2013, whilst numbers of thefts are slowly declining, we have seen some worrying spikes in high value tractor thefts - and a recent spate of tractor GPS guidance system thefts showing that thieves will steal anything of value from farms".

"At NFU Mutual we work closely with country people to improve security and beat crime. To-date NFU Mutual has invested more than £400,000 funding police specialist units to coordinate activity on agricultural vehicle crime for the good of the whole industry."

The national estimates reveal that the fall in rural crime was fairly consistent across most regions of the UK during 2012, ranging from -12% in the East of England to -32% in the Midlands. Only Scotland saw an increase year-on-year (+12%), but this only represented a growth of just over £200,000.

Oil and diesel thefts

According to 220 NFU Mutual agencies surveyed the trend for items most commonly targeted by rural thieves remains largely unchanged with tools, quad bikes and oil/diesel again topping the list.

While agencies suggest tractors and metal are less commonly targeted than last year, garden equipment makes a debut in the annual top ten list of targeted items, at number five.