Latest figures from insurance company NFU Mutual reveal a 12% increase in rural crime figures, at a cost to the UK in 2018 of nearly £50 million. The company believes this trend is adding to rural stress and isolationism.

The Mutual says claims for stolen farm vehicles, such as tractors and quad bikes, rose by 26% to £7.4m while animal theft claims climbed 3.7% to £2.5m. It reports that some farmers are having to deal with repeated thefts by gangs who take advantage of isolated locations to steal machinery, raid tool stores and even butcher animals in the fields.

By region, Scotland saw the fastest growth in the cost of rural crime, with a 62% increase, followed by the North East (up 25%) and the Eastern region (22%). However, there was slight fall measured in the south west, and the cost of crime fell by 1% in Wales.

“Farmers and people living in rural communities are suffering from high levels of anxiety due to repeated thefts by gangs,” states Tim Price of NFU Mutual. “In a single generation, we have rural crime change from the opportunist theft of a single lamb, to brazen heists of tractors worth over £100,000 and rustlers stealing hundreds of sheep.”

The full NFU Mutual rural crime report is available here. The NFU has launched a Rural Crime Reporting Line in partnership with Crimestoppers. The line allows anyone to anonymously give information about large-scale industrial fly tipping, hare coursing, and machinery and livestock theft. The dedicated Crimestoppers number is 0800 783 0137 or there is a website, www.ruralcrimereportingline.uk