RURAL crime cost Warwickshire £1.7million last year following a sharp rise in criminal gangs targeting farm and livestock machinery, it has been revealed.
The figures, published in Stratford-based NFU Mutual’s 2020 Rural Crime Report this month, are a rise of 8.5 per cent from 2018.
Across the UK, rural crime cost £54m in 2019, an increase of almost 9 per cent on the previous year.
For the second year running, the sharp rises are being driven by organised criminal gangs targeting high-value tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles – accounting for an increase of nearly 25 per cent to £9.3million on agricultural vehicles in the UK.
Within that total, quad bike and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) theft rose by 21 per cent to £3.1million. In addition, Land Rover Defender thefts reported to NFU Mutual rose by 34 per cent to £2.1million. Livestock theft also increased in 2019 with the UK cost going up nine per cent to £3million.
Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Rural crime is like a wave as organised criminality spreads through our villages, farms and rural towns, affecting everyone in the countryside.
“We continue to work hard to stem the tide and are warning rural communities and helping with prevention advice, as there are concerns for the months ahead as the economic impact of Coronavirus bites.
“As well as the financial cost, there’s a serious effect on the mental well-being of people living in rural and often isolated areas.
“There are fears that the impact will be felt harder this year as farmers have been working flat-out to feed the nation and many rural communities have been put under additional pressure by the challenges brought by Covid-19.”
This year NFU Mutual invested £430,000 to tackle rural crime, including a police UK-wide agricultural vehicle crime tracking and recovery unit.”