Rural crime has risen in the first few months this year following a 4% decline in 2016, the NFU Mutual confirmed this week.
Posting its annual rural crime report, the Mutual’s chair Richard Percy said rural crime covered a huge range of offences from livestock rustling to fly tipping and farm machinery thefts to hare coursing.
Tim Price, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist, said crime had become much more sophisticated over the past generation when rural theft rarely amounted to more than a set of spanners taken from a tractor toolbox.
“Today it has become an organised crime involving determined gangs who stake out expensive tractors for export across the globe, steal hundreds of sheep and relentlessly target the quad bikes that are a vital part of modern farming.”
The Mutual said among the emerging trends for 2017 had been stock stolen for slaughter and processing outside regulated abattoirs before illegally entering the food chain; thieves cloning the identities of large, expensive tractors and small and older tractors being targeted for export to developing nations.
Minette Batters, NFU deputy president, said the report had shown a lack of coordination across the UK in dealing with rural crime. She called for the Government and police to bring about a consistent approach.
Cases of publicised poultry thefts over the past year have included the theft of 230 ducks from a poultry farm in Aberdeenshire; £15,000 worth of poultry and red meat stolen from a Cambridgeshire butcher and most recently the decision by an East Anglia farming family to set up an egg vending machine following thefts from the farm store.
Dyfed-Powys have provided crime prevention advice for poultry theft. Advice to the poultry sector includes: