East Anglia: Crime against rural businesses on the rise, says NFU Mutual

FARMING-related crime cost the UK �52.7million last year, with rural theft in the East of England totalling �8.6m, according to new figures.

Specialist rural insurer NFU Mutal said the national total for “agri-crime” represents a 6% increase compared with 2010, with fuel, tools and metal topping the list of items being stolen.

There is also growing evidence of farm chemicals being targeted by thieves, with organised gangs thought to be shipping stolen supplies overseas.

The figures, based on claims data, have been released alongside the annual NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey, a survey of the insurer’s branch offices located across the UK’s countryside, which includes crimes against homes, farms, commercial premises and vehicles.

The survey suggests that tough economic conditions and rising commodity prices have combined to fuel the increase in rural crime over the last 12 months.

However, while more than three quarters (76%) of branch offices believe members are more concerned about rural crime compared to 12 months ago, there are signs that farmers and other rural residents are getting more creative in deterring criminals.

High-tech security measures such as CCTV and tracker devices, as well as physical security measures such as locks and alarms, are seen as more effective than a greater police presence or tougher sentencing for criminals.

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But while high-tech security equipment often comes at a hefty price, cheaper alternatives being adopted by NFU Mutual members include keeping geese to warn of intruders, storing quad bikes in a pen behind a bull and housing louder animals such as llamas in with other livestock.

James Godfrey, an NFU Mutual Agent in Ely, said: You don’t have to break the bank with high-tech security measures. Making sure your property is well lit, marking valuable items with SmartWater and working with local police and community groups are cheap yet effective alternatives to deter thieves.”