FEAR of rural crime is changing the way farmers live according to a specialist insurer.
Stratford-based NFU Mutual has revealed rural crime cost Warwickshire nearly £1.5million last year – a rise of nearly 40 per cent on 2017 – making it the ninth worst hit county in the UK. The sharp increase is mainly down to high value thefts of tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles.
Warwickshire, together with surrounding counties, have seen a recent wave of attacks on sheep, with more than 100 butchered in fields across the county for their meat, and 74 stolen.
The latest NFU Mutual report says farmers are being forced to ‘change the way they live and work’.
Spokeswoman Rebecca Davidson said: “One of the most alarming findings from this year’s report is that fear of crime is changing life in the countryside.
“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, many are forced to change the way they live and work as a result of rural crime.”
In a bid to keep the criminals away farmers have been digging ditches and creating earth banks as well as using security devices including infra-red beams and geo-fencing, which triggers an alarm if tractors go beyond farm boundaries.
Ms Davidson added: “Farmers are combining modern technology with physical fortifications to try and keep one step ahead of the thieves.
“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.”
The rural crime wave has prompted Warwickshire Police to use drones to help monitor wider areas. They allow officers to gather video evidence following reports of illegal activity on farms and also help locate stolen vehicles.
NFU Mutual has invested more than £1.5million to tackle the increasing problem and funds a specialist police officer to gather and coordinate intelligence with police forces nationwide.
Visit www.nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime for advice and further information.