Farmers urged to be ‘eyes and ears’ as rural crime jumps

Simon Fisher, NFU advisor for south Lincolnshire.
Simon Fisher, NFU advisor for south Lincolnshire.
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Farmers and landowners in south Lincolnshire are being urged to help tackle rural crime which cost an estimated £2.3 million in 2013.

An annual survey just released by NFU Mutual on the costs of crime in the countryside showed a jump of 28 per cent from £1.8 million in 2012 to £2.3 million last year.

Tractors, tools and fuel such as heating oil and red diesel were the top items targeted by thieves and Simon Fisher, NFU advisor for south Lincolnshire, said farmers should work more closely with the police to catch rural criminals.

Mr Fisher said: “Rural crime, in some instances, depends on what’s trendy at the moment and there will be a spate of tractor thefts that might last for a couple of months.

“Then it goes away again because it moves on to somewhere else.

“What we try to do with police when these things crop up is to encourage them to be more resourceful on the intelligence front and I’m quite keen to make sure that farmers and growers become good eyes and ears for the police.”

NFU Mutual’s survey showed that across the UK, rural crime cost an estimated £44.5 million in 2013, up by £2.2 million on 2012.

The rural insurer also revealed that more than half of its staff had seen customers suffer repeat crimes or had high-value items like machinery or farm vehicles stolen.

Mr Fisher said: “Some of the farming thefts are much more organised and the thieves are able to get stolen items away pretty quickly.

“These are the sort of the trends we’re seeing and that’s where the eyes and ears approach comes into its own.

“I’m a great believer in having greater liaison between the police and the farming community which is something the police are trying to improve as a result of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire coming on board.”

The rural crime survey also showed a trend in thefts of garden tools and ornaments where thieves have targeted gardens, sheds and outbuildings.

Chief Insp Stewart Brinn of Lincolnshire Police said: “The NFU Mutual figures provide an interesting picture and we have seen some significant decreases over the last three years in terms of recorded crimes.

“We work closely with representatives from across the rural and farming community to achieve some notable successes.

“This does not mean that rural crime is not a concern, far from it, and there is a lot of work still to be done.”