Rural crime falls in Suffolk and East Anglia – but not in Essex
New figures show a significant fall in the level of rural crime across the region – but there are significant differences between Suffolk and Essex.
In Suffolk the cost of rural crime fell by more than 20% according to the annual survey on the subject by insurer NFU Mutual.
But in Essex, the same survey showed that the figure went up by 20% – making it the worst single county in the country for rural crime.
NFU Mutual said the cost of rural crime in Suffolk in 2014 was £1.1m, down from £1.4m in 2014. In Essex the cost went up from £2m in 2013 to £2.4m last year.
Across East Anglia the cost of rural crime fell from £8.5m in 2013 to £6.3m in 2014, a drop of 26%. Nationally the figure fell from £44.5m to £37.8m, a 15% drop.
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The items most commonly targeted by thieves across Suffolk over the last 12 months were all-terrain vehicles (ATVs like quad-bikes and golf buggies), tools, trailers, garden equipment and fuels such as domestic heating oil and “red” diesel.
Sue Green, NFU Mutual Senior Agent in the East of England, said: “That there’s been an overall decline in the cost of rural crime over the last 12 months is welcome news and reflects the huge efforts being made by communities and others to tackle this problem.
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“That said, problem areas remain and thieves continue to exploit weaknesses such as around ATVs and tools.
“So, while today’s survey contains some good news, it also highlights the need for rural communities to remain vigilant and put security at the forefront of their minds.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore was pleased at the figures for the county and the region as a whole – but warned people still needed to take more care.
He said: “It is certainly welcome news that the figure has come down. I’d like to think it was partly down to the initiatives we have had on rural crime with a new unit being formed to tackle the problem.”
Farmers had improved the security of some of their largest equipment like tractors and combine harvesters that can be worth more than £100,000.
“But we need to work with manufacturers of other equipment to make it less easy to steal – and to keep up the message to owners that they have to lock machinery and tools away to make it less easy to steal.”
Philip Breary, NFU Mutual Senior Agent in Essex, said: “It is disappointing to see levels of rural crime rising in Essex, especially when there has been a decline nationally.
“The figures for Essex underscore the message that criminals will move to take advantage of weaknesses and rural communities should remain vigilant and put security at the forefront of their minds.”