Early theft claims statistics for the first half of this year show a sharp rise of over 20%, according to NFU Mutual’s 2017 Rural Crime Report.
The rural insurer said the figures raised concerns that a new rural crime is hitting the countryside.
Being “staked out” is the biggest worry for country people, followed closely by longer police response times in rural areas, it said.
Criminals continue to target Land Rovers, quad bikes, tractors, tools and livestock despite increased security on farms.
The report reveals that the cost of rural crime to the UK economy fell by 4% to £39.2m in 2016 as farmers turned their farmyards into fortresses against.
Successful joint initiatives involving police forces, NFU Mutual and other organisations also contributed to the fall, it said.
“While the fall in rural theft in 2016 is welcome news, the sharp rise in the first half of 2017 is deeply worrying,” said Tim Price, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist.
“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 country, 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 farmyards and even DNA markers to protect sheep from rustlers.”
As the main insurer of the countryside, Mr Price said NFU Mutual had responded to its members’ concerns and has invested over £1m to tackle the menace.
“The results of initiatives we support show clearly that when police, farmers and other rural organisations tackle rural crime in an organised way these schemes can be extremely effective.”
The North East, South West and the East of England were the regions to see a rise in the cost of rural theft in 2016 of 8.7%, 5.6% and 3.7% respectively.
In Scotland, where NFU Mutual and Police Scotland have joined forces to form the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime initiative, the cost of rural theft fell by over 32% last year.
There was a similar good result in Northern Ireland – where a Rural Crime Partnership saw the cost of rural theft fall by 14.9%.
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