CRIMINALS are systematically targeting farms across Yorkshire and the North East with a 12 per cent rise in ‘agri-crime’ in 2010.
New figures from the NFU Mutual show the rise in agricultural theft in north eastern areas of the country is estimated to have cost £9.2million last year.
This reflects a nationwide trend where almost two thirds (62 per cent) of NFU Mutual branches reported an increase in rural crime in their area.
Andrew Moss, NFU Mutual agent in Beverley, said: “People living and working in rural areas of Yorkshire need to be vigilant and keep working with police and local communities to help fight rural crime.
“Highly organised thieves don’t just target tractors, Land Rovers and farm machinery, they can also make money from items like quad bikes and power tools that can be stolen and sold on in the blink of an eye.”
While, nationally, thieves have targeted expensive tractors, heating oil, scrap metal and livestock, the theft of power tools topped the list of items targeted by criminals in rural Yorkshire. Tractors came in second followed by quad bikes.
The NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey is based on the 2010 claims experience of its network of branch offices in rural towns and villages.
When asked about the main reason thieves target the countryside, 41 per cent of branches said the fact that it was such a sparse area made it difficult to police, with 32 per cent claiming there was less chance of thieves being seen.
23 per cent thought relaxed attitudes towards security measures could also be a factor, while 59 per cent of NFU Mutual branches believe the most common time of day for thieves to act is during the night.
59 per cent also reported that thefts from farms or outbuildings was the biggest problem in their area, while 12 per cent said garden sheds and garages have proven tempting for thieves.