NFU Scotland makes call for vigilance on rural crime

Criminals often target quad bikes and livestock. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty ImagesCriminals often target quad bikes and livestock. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Criminals often target quad bikes and livestock. Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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While figures published by NFU Mutual show that the cost of rural crime in Scotland fell by almost a third in 2016, the insurer added that there have been signs of a significant rise in these figures during 2017.

As the figures were released, NFU Scotland warned that almost every week it was using its communication channels – text messaging, emails, Facebook and Twitter as well as word of mouth – to alert farmers and crofters to criminal activity in the countryside and the need for vigilance.

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President Andrew McCornick said that, over the past few days, the union had been in contact with members about sheep, quad and tractor thefts as well as alerting them to poaching and hare-coursing incidents.

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He said that the union had been working closer than ever with Police Scotland to combat crime, including livestock worrying and fly-tipping.

“The number of arrests shows that taking action does work and the cost of crime in rural crime in Scotland has dropped,” he said. “But there is no room for complacency.”

McCornick also said that the numerous on-farm events held around the country in conjunction with the police over the past two years had provided union members with valuable tips on how to tackle crime and protect their property.

“A few simple tips, such as moving fuel tanks indoors, security tagging equipment or padlocking gates and doors can be enough to keep goods safe,” added McCornick.

He said that crucially, all types of crime and theft usually involved transport and the police were crystal clear that they want those who lived and worked in the countryside to report suspicious vehicles.

“And all those who live and work in rural Scotland are urged to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police, either on the non-emergency number 101 or the emergency 999 number and not attempt to tackle these people yourself.”

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McCornick said that although there was a growth in organised gangs stealing to order in the countryside, both these groups and more opportunistic thieves often looked for the easiest target – and urged farmers to adopt some simple procedures such as locking farmhouses, sheds, and gates if possible. Property could be security marked and farmers should consider installing lighting, CCTV or an alarm system.

“Use signage to advertise that your home or business is protected by security systems, property should be security marked if possible, photographs should be taken of high value items and serial numbers or identify marks on property or equipment should all be recorded.

“Taking these measures can help reduce your chances of suffering the effects of crime.”