In this blog, we’ll look at the rise of rural crime within the UK, statistics and prevention methods.
What is Rural Crime?
Rural crime depicts the problems that typically occur within the countryside and isolated areas. This depicts a range of crimes that involve heritage, wildlife, agriculture and heritage. Rural crime covers a multitude of theft, fly-tipping and livestock rustling.
Farms in isolated locations are targeted due to vast amounts of machinery and equipment, compared to the lack of police and community presence, which authorises an easy getaway. Resulting in delays in vital work and leading to significant costs to replace the stolen goods. As no two rural properties or businesses are the same, ensuring complete security can be difficult. Increasing physical and visible security throughout is the best method to discouraging potential thieves.
In 2018 rural crime cost the UK nearly £50million, with a dramatic increase of 12% since 2017.
NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Tim Price said: “Dark nights provide cover for thieves to get into farmyards and buildings and have a good search around without being seen. In a single generation, country people have seen rural crime change from the opportunist theft of a single lamb to brazen heists of tractors worth over £100,000 and rustlers stealing hundreds of sheep.”
Figures from NFU Mutual, which insures over 75% of UK farmers, show £2.5m worth of animals were stolen in 2018 – a rise of 11% since 2016.
“Not only do businesses see their machinery stolen or large-scale waste dumped on their land, but they are frequently intimidated and threatened by the perpetrators. All of this can amount to serious disruption in the farm business, but it also takes its toll on the farmer and their family." – Guy Smith, NFU
A survey by Farmers Weekly discovered that nine out of ten respondents were victims of rural crime on their land at least once a year.
What is being done?
Between 2000 and 2012, more than 1,000 rural police stations were closed. The lack of police funding resulted in the increase of rural crime.
Within the Home Office’s Provisional Police Funding Settlement for 2019-2020 that there are plans to increase the funding for forces to up to £813million. These plans will help strengthen local policing, allowing a better quality of service to be delivered.
The NFU is calling on Police and Crime Commissioners to make tackling rural crime a strategic objective all year round…
In July 2019, following the increase of rural crime, Warwickshire Police launched the UK’s first Rural Crime Advice App. The app provides help to those affected by rural crime, while supplying advice and guidance on a range of topics.
How to stay vigilant / getting secure
access to your property with locked gates
• Be alerted when an intruder steps on your land with perimeter security
• Alarms can deter criminals and draw unwanted attention
• Covert CCTV can be placed where valuable machinery and equipment are stored
• CCTV signage provides additional security as it works as a visual deterrent
Rapid reaction when a crime is detected or in progress can be difficult when large properties are involved.
• Removing all keys from any vehicle and machinery will discourage theft, as criminals prefer a
• Consider leaving all vehicles and equipment in a secure building that cannot be easily entered
• Place a Throttle Lock on vehicles such as ATV's and mopeds to prevent the throttle being started in the attempt of the theft
Thieves are infamous for stealing farm vehicles, due to the high resale value and the fast nature of the getaway.
Countryside criminals are becoming more brazen, resulting in farmers having to continuously increase security to protect their equipment.