Farmers are employing private security firms to protect machinery and even crops as a rural crime wave sweeps the country.
Industry bodies have been highlighting the problems in the countryside for years and business owners claim police rarely do anything to enforce the law.
They say that criminals target certain types of equipment for parts and then ship them abroad.
Favourite items to be taken are GPS components, which are easily smuggled and sold on.
A study by the BBC has discovered that suspects are almost 25% more likely to be charged for crimes in urban areas than in the countryside.
The Home Office says forces plan to tackle the “challenges” of rural crime.
The BBC highlighted one farmer’s case where a tractor of stripped of parts but police did not turn up until two days later, by which time the machine had been sent off to be repaired.
The survey revealed 31,411 suspects were charged for 455,845 recorded crimes in 2021 – a rate of 6.89%. In urban areas, 325,727 charges were handed out for 3,809,865 offences, a rate of 8.55%.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has highlighted the toll rural crime takes on its members.
CLA spokesman Mike Sims said the use of private security firms is relatively low and business owners have to weigh the cost against the threat.
He added: “It’s a big problem but it doesn’t surprise us at all. GPS components are getting swiped left, right and centre but grain stores are now also being targeted.
“We have argued for years that rural policing has to be stepped up in line with the scale of the problem and some forces are better at it than others.
“For instance, Thames Valley Police have a dedicated team but it’s fair to say there are gaps.”
Farmers and rural business owners are encouraged by the CLA to report every single crime to police in order for a realistic picture to be maintained.
It is not just thefts, says the CLA, but damage caused by off-roaders and fly-tippers.
Many rural businesses comlpain there is little or no response to these issues, particularly by local authorities, tasked to manage illegal dumping.
Police chiefs recently vowed that all burglaries would be attended by officers.
The BBC quoted Mark Wild, who runs a security company which installs CCTV on farms, says he has been surprised by what farmers now need.
Mr Wild said: “I can’t keep up [with demand]. It’s relentless, my phone is off the hook 24/7. This year I’ve now been asked to secure grain stores.”
Insurance companies recognise the isolated nature of rural businesses make it easier for criminals to operate.
In an article in Security Journal UK, published in October, the CLA said there are means by which farmers can deter criminals, including fencing, CCTV or digging ditches.
Mr Sims wrote: “The well-established principles of deter, detect, delay and respond should apply throughout physical security.”