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Rural crime costs Warwickshire £1.1m but there are fears that figure will increase

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RURAL crime cost Warwickshire £1.1m last year, according to data from Stratford-based insurers NFU Mutual, leaving it among the top ten worst affected counties in the country.

While the cost of crime in the county was down on 2020 – a fall of 4.2 per cent – the rising costs of diesel, heating oil and farming machinery make rural communities prime targets for criminals.

A man with his back to camera wearing a waxed jacket and flat tweed cap looking across a field. (58377937)
A man with his back to camera wearing a waxed jacket and flat tweed cap looking across a field. (58377937)

Across the country rural crime, the report says, cost £40.5m with Lincolnshire the worst hit. Warwickshire was in ninth place.

Alison Price, from NFU Mutual in Warwickshire, said: “We are encouraged by the Warwickshire figures, however our UK data for this year warns that rural theft is gathering momentum as criminals make up for time lost over the past two pandemic years. We’re advising rural people to review their security, to help prevent crime and disruption.

“Fortunately, efforts by Warwickshire Police Rural Crime Team, working with the farming community, has resulted in crimes being reported, criminals apprehended and stolen machinery recovered. The theft of expensive global positioning units from farms in the county has reduced significantly thanks to joint working.

“However, with prices of essential farm equipment such as tractors and quads rising fast and the cost of diesel soaring over the past year, there’s little doubt that criminals will be trying to steal from farms. We also know that essentials of rural living like heating oil tanks will only become more attractive to thieves as costs rise. A recent poll by NFU Mutual reveals that 89 per cent of respondents believe inflation will lead to an increase in rural crime.”

The annual NFU Mutual report reveals that the national trend saw rural crime costs across the UK fall by 9.3 per to £40.5m in 2021.

However, claims from the first quarter of 2022 look to be increasing in both the Midlands and England as a whole, with insurers estimating UK rural crime costs more than 40 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Organised criminals, the report adds, continued to plague farmyards stealing high-value farm machinery and equipment including expensive global positioning systems while Land Rover Defender were targeted by thieves as their prices soared. The iconic British 4x4 vehicles were believed to have been stolen stripped down for their parts. Claims for stolen Land Rovers increased 87 per cent last year, to £2.6m nationally.

The number of fuel theft claims received by NFU Mutual fell from 2020 to 2021, but with record high prices for diesel and heating oil, those crimes are on the increase. The first half of this year, the report says, saw claims have more than doubled compared to the same period in 2021.

Alison added: “Crime in the countryside causes high levels of anxiety and disruption, with many farmers and rural homeowners feeling vulnerable due to their isolated location. The knowledge that determined thieves are scouring the countryside looking for targets, and returning to carry out night-time raids, leads to sleepless nights for many in remote areas.

“NFU Mutual is responding by helping those living and working in rural areas to put in place effective security measures and by continuing to provide major support to enable dedicated police resources to tackle crime.”

Combine harvester cutting crops in barley field during harvest under dramatic cloudy sky. (58377969)
Combine harvester cutting crops in barley field during harvest under dramatic cloudy sky. (58377969)

Inspector Allison Wiggin, rural lead for Warwickshire Police, added: “Working with our rural communities is vital in addressing rural crime and we continue to be proactive in targeting known offenders, recover stolen vehicles and equipment, plus provide advice and information on target hardening. The Rural Crime Team has recovered so far this year over half a million pounds worth of vehicles and equipment and will continue to work with our neighbouring forces, partners and residents to identify and deal with criminals within and entering our county.”

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