Rural theft, including theft of expensive farming vehicles, fertilizers and livestock, is on the rise in the UK, with the figures for 2013 up 5.2% on 2012. According to the latest data from NFU Mutual, which insures ¾ of UK farmers, 2013 was the worst year on record for livestock theft and the cost of crime to the UK’s rural economy reached £44.5m.
The annual rural crime report found that the number of sheep and livestock being stolen is increasing; up to 150 animals at a time. The vast numbers of sheep and cattle being rustled are expected to end up in the meat market, making it virtually impossible for the animals and perpetrators to be traced. Livestock theft costs are up 25% in parts of Northern England and Northern Ireland, where a wave of cattle and sheep rustling has occurred.
Expensive farming machinery and vehicles are also being stolen, with many top-of-the range vehicles being smuggled out of the country.
According to the annual report from NFU Mutual, claims for this type of crime in Cambridgeshire totalled £2.7m. Worryingly, criminals are increasingly targeting older models which are not fitted with alarms and immobilisers, to reduce the chances of getting caught. Any of Bluetrack’s small GPS
trackers are an ideal solution to the problem, as they can be placed out of sight in any vehicle and enable its owner to trace its location if stolen.
The most common items from the farming community targeted by thieves over the last 12 months were tools, followed by all-terrain vehicles and quad bikes. Criminals have also started to turn their attention to fertilizers and pesticides, with one case reporting a loss of £20,000 in one raid.
The advice to farmers is to take more precautions, but this can sometimes have negative consequences. Obvious security measures do not always deter professional criminals, as farmer across the nation are finding out. One such farmer, Steven Hole, said, “The more you secure you make it, the more obvious it is you have something to hide.”
Keith Walker, Director of Bluetrack says, “The theft of farm vehicles and machinery is at record level, and we believe GPS
trackers can alleviate the problem somewhat. By fitting the trackers to livestock and vehicles, and hiding in bags of fertiliser, farmers will have the upper hand if any of their assets get stolen.”