RURAL crime in Worcestershire cost the county £810,000 in 2019 – a fall of 19.5 per cent over 2018 and bucking the national trend.
However, the rest of the country saw an 8.8 per cent increase with Scotland seeing the biggest percentage increase at 44.1 per cent.
The Midlands as a whole, including Worcestershire, recorded a 7.8 per cent rise.
Rural insurer NFU says for the second year running, the sharp rises are being driven by organised criminal gangs targeting high-value tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles – accounting for an increase of nearly 25 per cent to £9.3m on agricultural vehicles in the UK.
Within that total, quad bike and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) theft rose by 21 per cent to £3.1m.
In addition, Land Rover Defender thefts reported to NFU Mutual rose by 34 per cent to £2.1m.
NFU says demand from overseas for expensive farm kit is fuelling the rise and, in one joint operation between NFU Mutual and the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service, five vehicles totalling more than £100,000 were recovered from Poland earlier this year.
Livestock theft also increased in 2019 with the UK cost going up nine per cent to £3m.
Organised gangs taking large numbers of sheep, which are thought to enter the food chain illegally, are driving the increase.
A spate of sheep being slaughtered and butchered in farmers’ fields also contributed to the rise and farmers continued to be affected by rustling during the pandemic – with initial figures suggesting an increase of nearly 15 per cent year on year in April 2020.
Theft of tractor global positioning systems (GPS) is a major concern as farms move to using precision technology to run field operations. Typically costing £8,000 to £10,000, GPS equipment has become a highly-prized item on the shopping lists of rural thieves.