Sharp rise in rural crime in Northumberland

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  • Rural crime cost the county £230,000 last year
  • ATVs and quad bikes, tools and livestock top thieves’ wish-list
  • UK statistics show rural theft costs fell four per cent in 2016, but have risen sharply in first half of 2017

The cost of rural crime to Northumberland was £230,000 in 2016, up 21 per cent from £190,000 in 2015.

The figures form part of NFU Mutual’s annual Rural Crime Report, published on Monday, revealing that despite the UK seeing a four per cent drop last year, the cost of rural theft has risen sharply in the first half of 2017.

According to NFU Mutual’s 2017 Rural Crime Report, early theft claims statistics for the first half of this year show a sharp rise of more than 20 per cent nationally, raising concerns of a new wave of rural crime in the countryside.

The items most commonly targeted by thieves across Northumberland over the last 12 months were ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) and quad bikes, tools and livestock.

The North East was the worst-hit region, seeing a 8.7 per cent rise to a total cost in 2016 of £7.3million, although Northumberland was not among the worst-affected counties by cost.

Jayne Watson, NFU Mutual agent in Morpeth, said: “Rural crime in Northumberland has risen dramatically during the last 12 months, as countryside criminals are becoming more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.

“In some parts of the county, farmers are having to turn their farmyards into fortresses to protect themselves from repeated thieves who are targeting quads, tractors and power tools. They are using tracking devices on tractors, video and infra-red surveillance in their farmyards and even DNA markers to protect sheep from rustlers.”

The report reveals that being staked out is the biggest worry for country people, followed closely by longer police response times in rural areas, according to the insurer.

Jayne added: “The threat of becoming a victim of rural crime, and regular reports of suspicious characters watching farms is causing high levels of anxiety among farmers who know their rural location makes them vulnerable to attacks.”