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Increased security advised for UK farmers


Security for farmers has become an even greater concern for the UK economy, due to high levels of theft in the farming and agriculture industry.

According to NFU Mutual’s 2021 Rural Crime Report, an estimated £43.3m in rural theft cost the UK in 2020, which was a 20% decrease on the previous year. Despite last years lockdown though, skilled and highly-organised criminals continued to plague farmyards, stealing tractor GPS systems, high value quad bikes and ATVs worth millions of pounds.

While the number of theft claims went down, thieves got more bang for their buck as the average cost rose to £4,425 up from £4,128 in 2019. Lockdown movement restrictions, police rural crime teams, and beefed-up farm security helped to curb crime over the pandemic, with most parts of the UK seeing an overall decrease in cost.

The cost of agricultural vehicle theft claims reported to NFU Mutual remained high at £9.1m as gangs capitalised on the countryside. Agricultural vehicle theft saw only a 2% drop in cost from 2019, still well above 2018’s total of £7.4m.

In order to combat this, NFU Mutual are investing £430,000 this year in local, regional and national initiatives to help farmers and rural communities tackle the issue of rural crime. This will include:

• Extra funding for a dedicated National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) unit to work with police forces nationwide and disrupt criminal gangs.

• Working with police to seize stolen machinery from overseas. Recent recoveries have been made from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Spain.

• Provide free trackers and immobilisers to quad-theft victims after a paid claim so they don’t suffer repeat thefts.

• Providing more incentives for farmers to invest in security through a new discount scheme for security products, in addition to existing agricultural vehicle insurance reductions.

• Sponsoring two cutting-edge farm projects in England and Scotland using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to alert farmers to suspicious activity.

Because of these alarming costs, NFU Mutual has provided a list of solutions to help prevent theft and reduce the costs to the industry caused by such crime:• Keep farm vehicles out of sight. Lock them up and remove the keys

• Block or fill in access points that aren’t regularly used

• Cut down overgrown planting that could be used by thieves carrying out surveillance

• Store tools in security cages or anchor down your quad

• Remove GPS systems wherever possible, and mark your kit with forensic or indelible ink

• Fit window locks, and lock entrance doors even when you’re home

• Join your local Rural and Farm Watch schemes

• Use closed WhatsApp groups to share information about local criminal activity

• Keep in contact with your neighbours and get to know your local rural crime team

• Report all crimes and suspicious sightings to police

• Use the Crimestoppers number to report rural crimes anonymously

• Use ‘Driveway’ detectors on access routes to your property

• Consult with a Police specialist about the most appropriate CCTV system

• Fit tracking devices and immobilisers to quads and tractors

• Use floodlights and movement detection alarms on farm buildings

• Use CESAR vehicle marking to deter thieves and aid recoveries

• Fit a fuel tank alarm to notify you of an attack on fuel tanks

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