Rural crime in Staffordshire and Derbyshire countryside cost both counties almost £2,000,000 last year in total, it has been revealed.
All-terrain vehicles, quad bikes, tools and 4x4s are just some of the items that top thieves’ wish lists – with statistics showing a sharp rise in burglaries in the first half of 2017.
In Derbyshire, rural crime cost the county more than £1m in 2016, up a staggering 34 per cent from £760,000 in 2015.
According to NFU Mutual’s 2017 Rural Crime Report, early theft claim statistics for the first half of this year show a spike in thefts nationally, sparking concerns that a new wave of rural crime is hitting the countryside.
In Staffordshire, rural crime cost the region almost £640,000 in 2016, down four per cent from £670 in 2015.
Popular items include farming tools, garden equipment, machinery, livestock, equestrian, trailers and horseboxes.
Staffordshire Police have issued advice directly targeted towards those who could fall victim to rural crimes, which includes:
- Fit solid doors and door frames;
- Fit doors with good locks to the latest British Standards and use padlocks and heavy-duty chains;
- Consider fitting security bars to windows to prevent offenders gaining access and contemplate installing a CCTV system or intruder alarms;
- For horse security, take colour photos in both winter and summer from each side, head, tail and any scars/markings;
- Be sure to brand your horse's hoof by having another method of identification.
According to statistics, rural crimes cost the Midlands £6.7m last year, down 1.9 per cent on £6.8m in 2015.
The report revealed that being ‘stalked out’ is the biggest worry for country people, followed closely by longer police response times in rural areas, according to the leading rural insurer.
Grant Hattle, NFU mutual senior agent in Derbyshire, said: "Rural crime in Derbyshire 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.
"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."