THE COST of rural crime in Warwickshire fell last year according to latest figures released by NFU Mutual.
But the Stratford-based rural insurer is urging farmers and other rural residents and businesses not to become complacent. The most recent data for the start of 2022 shows rural thieves are making up for lost time since the pandemic – with a special warning going out about fuel theft in particular.
Rural theft cost the county £1.1million in 2021, down 4.2 per cent from 2020. This is consistent with the national trend, which saw rural crime costs across the UK fall by 9.3 per cent to £40.5m in 2021.
However, claims indications from the first quarter of this year show an increase in the cost of rural crime. Initial estimates from the insurer reveal the first quarter of 2022 saw UK costs over 40 per cent higher than the same period last year.
As a result, farmers are urged to boost their security as fuel and machinery prices soar and the cost of living crisis bites.
In particular, a warning has gone out to farmers to guard themselves against fuel thefts.
The number of fuel theft claims received by NFU Mutual fell from 2020 to 2021, but with record high prices for diesel and heating oil, NFU Mutual claims data from the first half of this year indicates the frequency and cost of fuel theft claims have more than doubled compared to the same period in 2021.
In a new poll of the rural community by NFU Mutual, almost half of respondents – 49 per cent – said that fuel theft was now their greatest crime concern.
NFU Mutal spokeswoman Alison Price said: “We are encouraged by the Warwickshire figures, however our UK data for this year warns that rural theft is gathering momentum as criminals make up for time lost over the past two pandemic years. We’re advising rural people to review their security, to help prevent crime and disruption.
“Fortunately efforts by Warwickshire Police Rural Crime Team, working with the farming community, has resulted in crimes being reported, criminals apprehended and stolen machinery recovered. The theft of expensive global positioning units from farms in the county has reduced significantly thanks to joint working.
“However with prices of essential farm equipment such as tractors and quads rising fast and the cost of diesel soaring over the past year, there’s little doubt that criminals will be trying to steal from farms. We also know that essentials of rural living like heating oil tanks will only become more attractive to thieves as costs rise.”
A recent poll by NFU Mutual reveals that 89 per cent of respondents believe inflation will lead to an increase in rural crime.
Insp Allison Wiggin, rural lead for Warwickshire Police, said: “Working with our rural communities is vital in addressing rural crime and we continue to be proactive in targeting known offenders, recover stolen vehicles and equipment, plus provide advice and information on target hardening.
“The Rural Crime Team have recovered so far this year over half a million pounds worth of vehicles and equipment and will continue to work with our neighbouring forces, partners and residents to identify and deal with criminals within and entering our county.”