Farmers urged to ramp up security measures as clocks go back

The fresh warning follows a shock 22% rise in the UK cost of rural crime in 2022, to an estimated £49.5m
The fresh warning follows a shock 22% rise in the UK cost of rural crime in 2022, to an estimated £49.5m

Farmers have been urged to ramp up security measures to avoid becoming victims of rural theft after the clocks go back this weekend.

Figures by NFU Mutual show that farm theft costs were at their highest in the autumn and early winter months of 2021 and 2022.

In particular, smaller high value equipment such as GPS and quad bikes were being stolen in high numbers.

There are also concerns over a recent surge tractor and telehandler theft, which could worsen as the clocks go back on Sunday 29 October.

The rural insurer today (23 October) warned that criminals "use the cover of darkness to steal from the countryside."

Hannah Binns, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist said: "Farmers are being hit by a wave of thefts carried out by determined gangs who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

“We’re very concerned that the pattern of higher winter thefts will be repeated this year when the clocks go back and dark nights provide cover for criminals to steal from farms unseen.

“That’s why we are urging farmers to take all possible steps to keep expensive equipment locked away and make sure their farmyard security is as tight as possible."

NFU Mutual has asked farmers to look at their farmyards from the perspective of a thief to check if there were security gaps.

Ms Binns said: "Ask yourself are the entrance and exit points secure, and are there expensive items on display? Could you use multiple layers of security to protect valuable items?

“Thieves don’t like to be seen or heard so measures such as alarms, security lighting and systems which send notifications and CCTV images to mobile phones can alert farmers to an intruder’s presence."

The fresh warning follows a shock 22.1% rise in the UK cost of rural crime in 2022, to an estimated £49.5 million.

How can I bolster security?

NFU Mutual has shared its top tips for securing farm businesses:

• Close and lock yard gates

• Park farm machinery and farm vehicles out of sight, preferably in a locked building

• Remove GPS units where possible and lock them in a secure place overnight

• Keep records of the makes, models and serial numbers of farm kit

• Ensure security lighting, intruder alarms and cameras are covering all entrance points and are working correctly

• CESAR-mark, etch or mark farm name and postcode onto kit

• Add tracking devices and immobilisers onto vehicles. Farmers can also use mechanical immobilisers such as steering wheel locks or pedal locks on vehicles

• Keep fuel tanks in secure compounds and consider using locks and sensors

•Remove keys from vehicles when not in use and store them in safe, secure place

• Join a local farm watch group or WhatsApp network to keep updated about local rural crime trends and suspicious sightings

• Report all crimes and suspicious activity to the police