NFU Mutual’s annual Rural Crime Report shows Northamptonshire farmers and other people living in rural parts of the county lost half a million pounds worth of property in 2015.
Although thefts are down six per cent from 2014 (compared with a broadly static trend nationally), the complexity of the crimes is accelerating.
Stuart Cross, NFU Mutual’s senior agent in Northamptonshire, 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 that are a key part of modern farming.”
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There has been a shift in the items being targeted at rural homes.
In the latest survey, the theft of garden equipment was sited as the biggest growing trend along with 4x4’s.
The majority of those surveyed also reported that thieves in their area are becoming more sophisticated in the way that they operate, and that cyber crime is a growing concern.
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.
Mr Cross said: “Our advice to people living and working in the countryside remains the same: evaluate your current security measures, making improvements where necessary; remain vigilant; and report any suspicious activity to both the local police and community watch schemes.”
Top five targeted items:
1. ATV / quad bikes
3. Farm and commercial tools
4. Garden equipment
Top five types of crime:
1. Vehicle theft
3. Rural business theft
4. Livestock theft