Industry bears £50m theft burden
As AUSTERITY measures continue to bite into the economy, theft from farms has reached new levels, according to leading rural insurer NFU Mutual, which this week stated the cost of theft to UK agriculture was more than £50 million last year.
This was a rise of 6 per cent on the previous year and the rise in the cost of “agri-crime” came despite a fall in tractor thefts in England and Wales, with thieves shifting their focus to livestock, diesel and metal.
The NFU Mutual survey reported that while power tools and all-terrain vehicles remained firm favourites with rural criminals, emerging trends such as metal theft were being carried out on such a large scale that even the 11 per cent drop in the theft of tractors had been engulfed by the cost of replacing items that had been stolen and then scrapped or resold for a fraction of their worth.
Although tractor thefts had fallen in England and Wales, they remained a major problem for farmers in many parts of the country and were continuing to rise in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with tractors being stolen and exported from channel ports to final destinations across the globe.
A newcomer to the list of stolen articles from farms last year was agrochemicals.
NFU Mutual branch staff in arable farming areas noted thieves were now targeting farm chemical stores to steal pesticides and herbicides, where costs of more than £600 for 10 litres of chemical are not unusual.
Commenting on rural crime and the survey results, Lindsay Sinclair, group chief executive of NFU Mutual, said: “It is a sad fact but the countryside has long been seen as an easy target for criminals.”
More than three quarters of Mutual’s agents who completed the survey believed their members were more concerned about rural crime in their area compared with 12 months previously, but the survey also showed farmers were not taking more action to prevent their tools and machinery being stolen.
Hi-tech security measures such as CCTV and tracker devices, as well as physical security measures such as locks and alarms, are being used more, and Mutual agents believe they are more effective than a greater police presence or tougher sentencing for criminals.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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