August 3, 2021 11.06 am This story is over 33 months old

Lincolnshire worst affected county for rural theft for second year running

A 12% drop from 2019, but still alarmingly high figures

By Local Democracy Reporter

Lincolnshire had the highest rural theft bill in the whole of Great Britain for the second consecutive year in 2020, reaching almost £2.5 million in insurance claims.

According to NFU Mutual’s 2021 Rural Crime Report,  £2,479,792 worth of rural theft insurance claims were made in Lincolnshire, the most in the UK by over £400,000.

That is a 12.7% drop from 2019, when Lincolnshire was also the number one place in the country for rural theft, amounting to a cost of £2,841,146.

The statistical drop has been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increased security on farms and other rural areas.

NFU Mutual says that despite the heightened security and work of police rural crime teams, highly-organised criminals are still managing to steal expensive items from farmers, including GPS systems on tractors and quad bikes.

Nationally, GPS theft almost doubled in 2020, with insurance costs reaching £2.9 million, while agricultural vehicle theft has cost around £9.1 million, just a 2% reduction from 2019.

The spike in GPS thefts is particularly alarming for farmers, who may not be able to successfully work through harvest without GPS systems on their machinery.

NFU Mutual have pledged additional funding of £430,000 this year for rural crime prevention initiatives, in an attempt to make it even tougher for thieves to commit these crimes.

Jim McLaren, chairman at NFU Mutual, said: “As a farmer myself, I know from personal experience that rural crime in whatever form it takes – such as agricultural vehicle theft, livestock rustling or fly-tipping – is far more than an inconvenience.

“It’s a major disruption that can have a real impact on a farmer’s work life, family life and mental wellbeing – especially at critical times like harvest or lambing.

“While the scale of rural theft can be gauged by its cost – an estimated £43.3m last year – the anxiety experienced by farming families, who constantly feel they are being watched by determined criminals waiting for opportunities to steal, is impossible to calculate.

“We’re convinced that when NFU Mutual Agents and our national specialists work together with police, farmers and other rural organisations to tackle rural crime we can make a difference.”