Fears of post-Covid rural crime surge as price claims soar – Farmers

The price of UK rural crime rose by greater than 40% within the first quarter of 2022, new figures from NFU Mutual present, as criminals make up for time misplaced through the coronavirus lockdowns.

The agricultural insurer estimated declare prices of £12.9m within the first three months of this 12 months, in contrast with £8.8m in the identical interval of 2021, suggesting a worrying return to pre-pandemic rural crime ranges.

NFU Mutual’s 2022 Rural Crime Report Shows the price of rural theft was an estimated £40.5m throughout the UK final 12 months, down from £44.7m in 2020.

See additionally: Rural crime falls however farms nonetheless in danger from ‘slicker’ thieves

Regardless of this general lower, a surge in theft in the direction of the tip of 2021 and the beginning of this 12 months recommend rural thieves are returning in numbers to the countryside.

Though the price of claims for quad bikes and ATVs fell to £2.2m final 12 months, virtually half of these thefts befell between September and December.

NFU Mutual mentioned transport delays and the consequences of Covid and Brexit had been contributing to an increase in demand for each new and second-hand farm equipment.

As ready lists develop and market values improve, thieves as soon as once more see quads and ATVs as fascinating objects that may be simple to maneuver.

Gasoline costs have begun to stabilise following document highs, however farmers are being urged to extend safety to discourage diesel thieves.

2021 rural crime in numbers

  • GPS theft price £1.5m, a 47% lower from 2020 due to focused police operations
  • Agricultural automobile theft price £9.1m, matching final 12 months’s determine regardless of the broader drop in rural crime prices
  • Livestock theft price £2.4m, a rise of three.7% on 2020
  • Trailer theft price £1.75m, a rise of practically 5% on 2020
  • Quad bike and ATV theft price £2.2m, a fall of virtually 11% from 2020

Newest claims knowledge for the beginning of 2022 recommend gas theft is on the rise once more – the primary half of this 12 months has seen each the price and frequency of gas thefts greater than double in contrast with the identical interval final 12 months.

Claims for stolen livestock rose to £2.4m final 12 months, stoking fears that rustlers will look to money in on the cost-of-living disaster and promote meat on the black market.

In the meantime, cattle price an estimated £1.5m had been injured or killed by canine throughout the UK, regardless of trade campaigns urging walkers to all the time use a lead close to livestock.

The full price of agricultural automobile theft claims remained at £9.1m final 12 months, as farmyards had been focused for high-value tractors, GPS techniques and trailers.

However GPS price claims practically halved to £1.5m, due to proactive police operations concentrating on refined gangs that steal the very important farm expertise and ship it overseas.

Final 12 months noticed a pointy rise in the price of Land Rover Defender thefts.

Stolen automobiles and dismantled components had been accountable for a lack of £2.6m, a rise in worth of 87% on the earlier 12 months, with the variety of thefts rising by 34%.

NFU Mutual invested £430,000 within the combat towards rural crime final 12 months.

This consists of help for an agricultural automobile theft unit on the Nationwide Car Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) which recovered stolen automobiles and farm equipment price £2.6m in 2021.

Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, mentioned:

“Our newest claims figures warn that rural theft is shortly gathering momentum as criminals make up for time misplaced over the previous two pandemic years. We’re advising rural individuals to overview their safety, to assist stop crime and disruption.”

Following the strengthening of legal guidelines round hare coursing, unlawful encampments and livestock worrying in numerous components of the UK, NFU vice-president David Exwood known as for additional progress to drive down rural crime.

“We will’t cease right here. Farmers, the police and policymakers should proceed to work collectively on a nationwide and native degree to construct a construction that can stop rural crime, underpinned by stable laws,” Mr Exwood mentioned.

The price of rural theft across the UK

Area or Nation

Value in 2021

Value in 2020










North East




North West




Northern Eire








South East




South West












Estimates based mostly on NFU Mutual claims statistics. Prices rounded to the closest £100,000. Percentages are based mostly on precise figures.

Case examine: Bucks farmers trial high-tech safety sensors

John Whitby © NFU Mutual

A farming household in Buckinghamshire is trialing a high-tech safety system which may assist snare refined rural thieves and defend property.

The expertise connects alarms and degree sensors on buildings, area gates and gas tanks that are monitored remotely. It could actually alert farmers if farm automobiles or livestock transfer past pre-set boundaries.

The battery-powered alarms and sensors kind a community of gadgets often called the Web of Issues (IOT), utilizing a Lengthy Vary Broad Space Community (LoRaWAN) to switch info.

The LoRaWAN community addresses the issue of poor connectivity in rural areas.

John Whitby, who helps his brother Steve and sister-in-law Lilles run Rowley Farm on the city fringe in south Buckinghamshire, says the expertise is offering the enterprise with an additional layer of safety.

Throughout three websites that are residence to the farm and a number of other diversified companies, the expertise makes use of three antennas and a base unit to observe farm gear equivalent to tractors and cattle trailers in addition to entry gates, doorways on buildings equivalent to instrument shops, and the degrees in farm diesel tanks.

“Hopefully, will probably be potential for tech firms to develop techniques which are inexpensive and may be put in by farmers themselves,” Mr Whitby mentioned.

He mentioned the expertise additionally had potential as a farm administration instrument, to observe saved crop or slurry ranges. Enhancements that may very well be made embrace real-time updates as an alternative of each half-hour, in addition to real-time monitoring of equipment, not simply an alert to say it has been moved.

NFU Mutual can be working an identical trial on a farm in Scotland. The agricultural insurer says the system can even mitigate different dangers equivalent to fireplace, by monitoring temperature modifications in saved hay or grain.

Agri-tech specialist Charlie Yorke mentioned: “If tech and connectivity reside as much as expectations, they might ultimately supply farmers a low-cost system to discourage thieves and defend the entire of their farms.”

Case examine: Fed-up sheep farmers ask public to be their eyes and ears

Neil Cole with his daughter Ida

Neil Cole along with his daughter Ida © NFU Mutual

Dartmoor hill farmer Neil Cole says he’s uninterested in the persistent sheep rustling in his space and the emotional impression it has on hard-working farmers.

Alongside his brother Matthew, Mr Cole farms sheep and cattle in Princetown, inside Dartmoor Nationwide Park.

His daughter Ida, 21, who studied hill farming at Newton Rigg Faculty in Cumbria, can be a part of the farm staff.

Mr Cole reckons between 20 and 30 of their sheep are stolen annually. In addition to theft, canine assaults on his sheep have gotten extra frequent.

“It’s a troublesome sufficient space to farm with out the added fear of your livestock being taken,” Mr Cole mentioned.

“A few of our flock is as much as six miles from the farm in the midst of the moor.

“It’s troublesome to maintain an correct rely and it’s typically solely after we come to deliver them in to shear or in autumn, after we get them prepared for ramming, that we’re capable of actually assess what number of are lacking.”

However now, Mr Cole and different Dartmoor farmers are hitting again, with the assistance of Devon and Cornwall Police and NFU Mutual.

Launched final 12 months, the Devon Livestock Initiative is a partnership geared toward getting the general public to report suspicious exercise.

Farmers are given gate indicators which embrace the instances that animals are usually moved, asking the general public who see sheep being moved outdoors of those instances to name a displayed quantity for the native farmer, or the police on 101.

Mr Cole added: “In addition to the indicators, we have now begun marking our sheep with a particular paint on their horns, which is sort of inconceivable to take away and makes them simpler to determine.

“There’ll little doubt be a spread of different measures we are able to make use of because the initiative expands.”

Rural crime prevention ideas

NFU Mutual has created a brand new collection of movies to assist farmers defend their property.

The brief clips supply knowledgeable safety recommendation on quad bikes, tractors, GPS techniques and farmyard buildings.