Monday, 03 August 2015 00:00

Crime still a challenge despite drop

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Crime still a challenge despite drop

RURAL crime cost the UK economy £37.8m last year - despite an overall decline in every region.

Increasingly sophisticated thieves are cybercrime are a growing concern, said rural insurer NFU Mutual.

Results of its annual rural crime data based on claims received in 2014 were published by the company on Monday (3 August).

They show that rural crime cost the UK economy £37.8 million in 2014, down from £44.5 million in 2013 – representing a 15% fall.

But despite the overall decline, several types of crime have continued to rise in parts of the UK, with quad bikes proving particularly attractive to thieves.

Meanwhile, the cost of livestock theft nationally has remained stubbornly high with several regions recording increases.

The data follows a spate of high-value livestock thefts across the country, and the rollout of a national livestock theft reduction scheme sponsored by NFU Mutual.

In a survey of the company's branch offices across the UK, 56% of respondents indicated that awareness of crime is rising in rural communities.

The survey also reveals that rural communities are employing ever more sophisticated means of protecting themselves, including the installation of alarm and CCTV systems.

The most commonly targeted items over the last twelve months were fuel, tools and quad bikes.

Essex and Kent were the UK's worst affected counties in 2014, while in Scotland the cost of quad bike theft increased by around 80%.

The survey reveals that many in rural communities feel that thieves are also becoming more sophisticated.

NFU Mutual's most recent claims data shows thieves taking advantage of new targets such as solar panels.

But vehicle theft, burglary and livestock theft were the most prevalent rural crimes.

NFU chief claims manager Matthew Scott said: "That our figures show an overall decline in the cost of rural crime during the last 12 months is welcome news and reflects the huge efforts being made by communities and others to tackle this problem."

Initiatives like the Lancashire livestock scheme and CESAR tracking for agricultural vehicles were having a real impact and making life increasingly difficult for rural criminals, said Mr Scott.

Sponsored by NFU Mutual, the livestock scheme brings together police and communities to beat livestock thieves, and provide safe spaces for stolen livestock.

The initiative is now being replicated in Yorkshire, Cumbria and other livestock rearing counties across the country.

But Mr Scott added: "Problem areas remain.

"Levels of livestock theft for example are stubbornly high and quad bikes continue to be targeted by criminals with several regions of the country recording significant increases in the cost of quad bike theft.

"So, while today's survey contains some good news, it also highlights the need for rural communities to remain vigilant and put security at the forefront of their minds."

To date, NFU Mutual has invested more than £600,000 funding police specialist units to coordinate activity on agricultural vehicle crime.

This has helped reduce tractor theft by a third from a record £10m in 2010 to £5.4m in 2014.

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