RURAL crime cost Cheshire £740,000 in 2016 - up a staggering 24 per cent from £600,000 the previous year, a new report has revealed.
The figures form part of insurance group NFU Mutual’s annual ‘Rural Crime Report’, which also shows that despite the UK seeing a four per cent drop last year, the cost of rural theft has risen sharply in the first half of 2017.
Early theft claims statistics for the first half of this year show a sharp rise of over 20 per cent nationally, raising concerns that a new wave of rural crime is hitting the countryside.
The items most commonly targeted by thieves across Cheshire over the last 12 months were tools, all-terrain vehicles and quad bikes, and machinery.
Peter Offer, NFU Mutual Agent in Cheshire, said: “Rural crime in Cheshire has risen dramatically during the last 12 months, as countryside criminals are becoming more brazen.
“Farmers have to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.
“They are being forced to consider the increased risk of theft of tractors, quad bikes and tools, and ways in which farm security can be improved.
“They are using tracking devices on tractors, video and infra-red surveillance in their farm yards and even DNA markers to protect sheep from rustlers.”
The report reveals that being ‘staked out’ is the biggest worry for country people, followed closely by longer police response times in rural areas, according to the leading rural insurer.
Criminals continue to target Land Rover Defenders, quad bikes, tractors, tools and livestock despite increased security on farms.
Peter added: “The threat of becoming a victim of rural crime, and regular reports of suspicious characters watching farms is causing increased concern amongst farmers who know their rural location makes them vulnerable to attacks.
“Our advice to people living and working in the countryside is to regularly evaluate your current security measures making improvements where necessary, remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the local police and local farm watch schemes.”