Rural Crime Rises In Thames Valley

5 August 2019, 10:55 | Updated: 5 August 2019, 11:04

From AS Police

Farmers and land owners in the Thames Valley lost £1.3 million to rural crime last year.

NFU Mutual found a nearly 7% rise in Berkshire and a massive 30% increase in Oxfordshire.

The rural insurer found overall, figures reveal that rural crime cost the UK £50m in 2018, an increase of 12% on the previous year and the highest overall cost in seven years. The sharp rises are being driven mainly by high value thefts of tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles - up 26% to £7.4m in 2018.

The items most commonly targeted by thieves across South East over the last 12 months were Tools ATVs/quads and machinery.

Rural crime cost Berkshire more than £551,000 last year, a rise of 6.6% from 2017 - while in Oxfordshire, it went up to more than £821,000 last year, up 30.8%.

Tigi Singhateh, NFU Mutual Branch Manager in Reading, said:

"One of the most alarming findings from this year's report is that fear of crime is changing life in the countryside. From constant reports of thefts and suspicious vehicles touring the countryside and rural criminals regularly staking out farms, country people feel they are under siege.

"The report further reveals that limited police resources and repeat attacks are the biggest fears for people in rural communities, with many forced to change the way they live and work as a result of rural crime.

"Repeat attacks are causing widespread anxiety and exacerbating the problems of rural isolation amongst farmers who often work alone all day. Some farmers are so concerned about the risk of criminal attack they can no longer leave the farm with their family to attend local agricultural shows.

"Farmers are combining modern technology with physical fortifications to try and keep one step ahead of the thieves. Together with digging ditches and putting up earth banks to prevent criminals getting on to farm land, we're seeing electronic devices like infra-red beams which send alerts to mobile phones and geo-fencing, which triggers an alarm if tractors go beyond farm boundaries. These technologies are proving to be effective weapons in the fight against rural crime. This is increasingly important because today's determined thieves come armed with battery-powered angle grinders which can cut through chains and padlocks in seconds to access farm buildings and tool sheds."

NFU Mutual's figures are used by police forces to help them understand rural crime on their patch and plan rural police responses. It also provides support and expert advice to many local farm and rural watch schemes.