Sometimes the numbers speak for themselves.
Rural crime reached a whopping £54 million in the UK during 2019 – a rise of 9% over 12 months. That’s according to the newly released 2020 Rural Crime Report by NFU Mutual which points out that the crime level is now at its highest for eight years.
The insurer pointed to organised criminal gangs targeting items such as quad bikes and high value tractors, as well as large numbers of livestock. Indeed, looking at 2020, while crime levels appear to have reduced overall amid lockdown, there are concerns that the issue could be furthered by the tough economic climate.
Focusing in on the 2019 data, the biggest increase in crime came in Scotland – up 44% - with Northern Ireland following with a regional rise of 18%. It is estimated that there was a 25% leap in agricultural vehicle related crime at £9.3 million, while Land Rover Defender thefts reported to the insurer jumped 34% to £2.1 million. Livestock theft hit £3 million.
“Rural crime is like a wave as organised criminality spreads through our villages, farms and fells, affecting everyone in the countryside,” said Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual. “We continue to work hard to stem the tide and are warning rural communities and helping with prevention advice, as there are concerns for the months ahead as the economic impact of coronavirus bites.
“As well as the £54 million financial cost, there’s a serious effect on the mental well-being of people living in rural and often isolated areas. There are fears that the impact will be felt harder this year as farmers have been working flat-out to feed the nation and many rural communities have been put under additional pressure by the challenges brought by COVID-19.”
In an effort to lead the fightback, the insurer has teamed up with the Security Exchange to fund a free-of-charge security service for existing D&O policyholders with AIG PrivateEdge. This includes a telephone advice service.