RURAL crime has cost Worcestershire more than £1million, according to figures released by an insurance company.
In NFU Mutual’s report, the cost of rural theft across the county has risen by 28.8 per cent from £827,139 to £1,065,751.
The items most commonly targeted by thieves over the last 12 months were all terrain vehicles, quad bikes, tools and garden equipment.
Rupert Barnes, NFU Mutual Senior Agent in Worcester, said: “Rural crime in Worcestershire has risen dramatically during the last 12 months, as countryside criminals are becoming more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.
“In some parts of the county, farmers are having to turn their farmyards into fortresses to protect themselves from repeated thieves who are targeting quads, tractors and power tools.
“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 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.
Mr Barnes added: “The threat of becoming a victim of rural crime, and regular reports of suspicious characters watching farms is causing high levels of anxiety among 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.”
For more information and advice on how to prevent rural crime visit www.nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime