Farmers fear rising rural crime as the UK eases out of lockdown

The recent tractor theft from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s farm in Essex has put the spotlight on rural crime, at a time when farmers across the UK are voicing fears of increased targeting by thieves.

Tracker, the stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) expert, is urging rural communities to protect themselves from casual criminals and organised gangs focusing on farms, and calls for extra vigilance, reminding owners to look at ways to protect their vehicles, farm equipment and machinery.

The recent National Farmers’ Union (NFU) rural crime survey of farmers across 10 regions in England and Wales found:

  • Overall, 31% said that they experienced at least one crime during 2020.

  • 42% of crime victims reported at least one instance of theft with the most common types of items targeted being tools / equipment (17%) and vehicles / machinery (12%).

  • Those affected by crime in 2020 saw estimated average losses of £4,473.

  • 59% of farmers surveyed feel that rural crime in their area has increased during the past year (64%) in East Anglia.

Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison for Tracker commented: “The lifting of restrictions across the UK are a double-edged sword for the farming and agricultural sectors; it brings social and economic relief for many but also fears of a release in pent up criminal activity.

Unfortunately, East Anglia, where Jamie Oliver lives, typically experiences a higher-than-average crime rate due to the thieves making the most of quick access to nearby docks like Felixstowe. Criminal gangs will steal to order and quickly ship the goods abroad to places like Eastern Europe and North Africa, and farming equipment is high on thieves shopping lists as demand continues to grow.”

Tractor thefts are rarer due to the sheer size of them and the logistics of moving them quickly enough to ship them abroad. However, quad bikes and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) used on farms are popular targets for thieves; these types of farm vehicles have basic onboard tech, are a compact size to transport in a shipping container and they are often not registered for road use, making them more difficult to readily identify,

“Thankfully, farmers are responding to the rise by taking extra crime prevention measures such as blocking field entrances, digging ditches around fields and most importantly upgrading building security and installing CCTV. Another security strategy is to fit tracking units. Whilst it won’t necessarily stop the vehicle or equipment from being stolen, it will significantly increase the prospect of successful recovery and return to the rightful owner if this happens,” concludes Wain.

80% of stolen vehicles recovered by Tracker are recovered within 24 hours thanks to its exclusive partnership with the UK’s police.

Source: Farming Life