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Rural crime report 2019

Rural theft has changed, from opportunist thieves taking tools to organised and brazen criminals stealing expensive tractors and flocks of sheep, to order, says NFU Mutual chairman, Richard Percy, in a foreword to the insurance company’s rural crime report 2019. While the largest category of theft is farm vehicles, the value of other crimes has risen, whether theft of quad bikes or of livestock. Organised gangs, often using working dogs, can take dozens, even hundreds of sheep in a single night-time raid; disrupting a business for years until a flock is re-built.

Richard Percy said: “Fly-tipping has changed from a van load of building rubble left in a gateway to lorry loads of hazardous waste dumped on farm land.” Hare coursing likewise he added has changed ‘from a couple of dodgy characters with a dog’ to a nationally organised crime. Percy said: “Rural crime is now a major worry for anyone working or living in the countryside, adding to the problems of isolation and depression increasingly being reported amongst rural communities.”

Farm loaders are stolen, and then used to batter down the front of shops to steal cash machines, often in villages further from police vehicle response. As Sarah Staff, in charge of the BSIA’s Safer Cash intelligence-sharing operation, said in the report: “SaferCash has seen a continued increase in this offending in 2019. The machinery is being stolen from nearby farms on the night of the attack and only driven a short distance to the scene of the crime. The damage caused to the building housing the ATM is always significant and often beyond repair.”

For a second year in succession, rural crime has risen dramatically, the insurer said. In 2018 UK rural crime according to the company’s claims figures cost £49.9m; compared to the cost in 2017, an increase of 12 per cent, or around £5.4m. All regions showed a rise, except the south west and Wales.

The document does detail how the authorities are working against such crime. For example Insp Alan Droon of the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC), while acknowledging that crime goes unreported, described SPARC’s publicising of Secured By Design (SBD) crime prevention products that can reduce opportunities for crime.

Rural and more general crimes overlap. For example Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual Rural Insurance Specialist, wrote in the report of car thieves exploiting keyless technology to meet demand for high-end vehicles, and their parts. Luxury 4x4s taken from country homes are dismantled in ‘chop shops’ for onward journey overseas. NFU Mutual provides discounts to policy-holders who fit approved security and registration (CESAR) scheme registration and/or fit approved security devices to farm vehicles. CESAR protects about 320,000 items of construction and agricultural equipment, whereby police can check at the roadside to confirm the identity of a machine.

For the report, visit


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