Theft in 2010 is estimated to have cost the UK farming industry £50m, an increase of 20% from 2009, says the NFU Mutual.
The NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey (RCS) was based on the 2010 claims experience of its branch offices in rural towns and villages and reports that the most popular targets for rural thieves were not livestock or crops but chainsaws, electric drills and lawnmowers.
In England, theft cost farmers £42.8m in 2010, up 26% on the previous year. In Scotland, the cost of claims rose by 57% since 2009, to £1.4m, and in Northern Ireland it rose by 28% to £3.8m. But in contrast in Wales, the cost was £1.7m, down by 48% from the previous year.
The theft of tractors, heating oil, scrap metal and livestock from farms and rural businesses tended to be during broad daylight, 59% of branches said the most common time of day for thieves to act was between midnight and 0600.
Nearly 60% said thefts from farms or outbuildings was the biggest problem, while 12% said garden sheds and garages attracted thieves. When asked why thieves target the countryside, 41% of branches said the large areas involved made it difficult to police, while 32% claimed there was less chance of thieves being seen.
Lindsay Sinclair, chief executive of NFU Mutual, said: “Whether it’s the recession, tighter security in towns, or the rise in oil, meat and scrap metal prices countryside people are feeling the blight of rural crime on their land.
“However, country people are not taking this scourge lying down. We’ve already seen that by working with the police forces and manufacturers, tractor theft and organised rural crime can be tackled head-on. A united front against crime in the countryside will help to protect communities from being targeted further with vigilance as the watchword.”