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1 August 2016, 10:43 | Updated: 1 August 2016, 10:44
New figures show rural crime cost Kent £1.9m last year.
According to the Rural Crime Report, compiled by NFU Mutual, the number is up 9% from £1.7m in 2014, despite remaining broadly static at a national level. The cost of rural crime to the UK economy as a whole has now reached £42.million a year.
Tools from farms and businesses, along with quad bikes and 4x4 were the items most commonly targeted by thieves across Kent over the last 12 months.
Mike Welham, NFU Mutual Senior Agent in Kent, said: "Rural thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated and using computers rather than bolt cutters to steal from farms and country properties.
"Farmers and police have been working hard to adopt high-tech security measures to tackle the problems which now include: cloning tractor identities, advertising non-existent machinery in agricultural publications and stealing the GPS computer systems which are a key part of modern farming.”
There has been a shift in the items being targeted at rural homes as well; in the latest survey of NFU Mutual’s agency network, the theft of garden equipment was sited as the biggest growing trend along with 4x4’s.
The majority of NFU Mutual Agent’s surveyed (65%) also reported that thieves in their area are becoming more sophisticated in the way that they operate and cyber crime is also a growing concern amongst their communities.
The survey also revealed that social media is now the main resource for sharing information about crime in rural communities and is a valuable tool – not only in the prevention of rural crime but also for catching criminals and returning stolen goods.