Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist NFU Mutual, said that while diesel was essential to keep agriculture running and to keep the nation fed, the insurers had found that price rises and fuel shortages in the past had seen an increases in thieves targeting fuel stores on farms.
“We are urging farmers to be vigilant and to strengthen security, in case a prolonged shortage sees fuel thieves return to the countryside,” said Davidson.
“In 2020, even during a year of lockdowns, thieves continued to steal fuel in large quantities and our claims data has found the average cost of diesel theft in the countryside was £2,120. In 2019 the average was £2,327.”
And she warned that not only did fuel theft see farm work grind to a halt but criminals often cause damage getting into tanks and spilling fuel: “Often the consequence of attack is escape of fuel with the potential for serious pollution problems, which are difficult and extremely costly to clean up and which may present increased fire risks.”
She said that NFU Mutual was investing over £430,000 in carefully targeted initiatives to tackle rural crime this year – including sponsoring two trials of connected farms using LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) technology and sensors to detect threats and provide alerts and notifications when there was activity outside and when there was any changes to fuel tank levels.