Land Law Finance - Issue 14 - Autumn 2019

Issue 14 L and L a w F inance 19 Mutual looks at the impact that crime is having on rural communities throughout the UK. Claims figures reveal that rural crime cost the UK £50m last year, an increase of 12% on the previous year. The biggest percentage increase was seen in Scotland (62%), although its rural crime cost remains below the UK average. The second-highest regional rise was 25% in North East England and the third was East Anglia with a rise of 22%. Despite this, the cost of rural theft fell in two regions – Wales, down 7% and the South West, down by just 1%. The sharp rises are being driven mainly by high value thefts of tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles – up 26% to £7.4m in 2018. 'Links to money laundering and drugs' The last time rural theft reached the current level was in 2011 when international gangs took advantage of a largely unsecured countryside, according to NFU Mutual. Tim Price, Rural Affairs Specialist, said: “Today, we are seeing another rise as organised criminal gangs with links to money laundering and drugs find ways to beat security and steal farm vehicles. “Farmers and country people are suffering from high levels of anxiety due to repeated thefts by gangs who take advantage of farms’ isolated locations to steal machinery, raid tool stores and even butcher sheep in the fields. “In a single generation, country people have seen rural crime change from the opportunist theft of a single lamb, to brazen heists of tractors worth over £100,000 and rustlers stealing hundreds of sheep.” He added: “We are even seeing agricultural vehicles being stolen to smash into village shops to rob cash machines. As well as causing huge structural damage to buildings, these raids can lead to shop owners not replacing ATMs for fear of further attacks.” Changing life in the countryside One of the most alarming findings from this