The cost of livestock theft rose 25% across the UK in 2013, making it one on the worst years on record according to figures from a new NFU Mutual survey.
Parts of north-west England saw a 68% rise in livestock theft claims during the year with the north-east increasing by 52%. Cattle and sheep rustling was the main area of concern with Northern Ireland also being seriously-affected.
Rural theft in total cost £44.5m last year, up 5.2% on 2012, with thieves targeting high-value tractors, worth up to £80,000, which NFU Mutual said were often stolen for export. The worst-hit county was Cambridgeshire where an estimated £2.7m of rural items went missing.
A new crime trend, identified by the survey, was the theft of chemicals, such as fertilisers and pesticides, items which can be taken in small or large volumes and exported quickly and easily. In one example, close to £20,000 worth of chemicals was taken in one raid alone.
“Criminals are not just cold and calculated; they’re opportunist too,” said NFU Mutual’s chief claims manager, Matthew Scott. “That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant and fight rural crime. We’ve already seen that by working with the police forces and manufacturers, tractor theft and organised rural crime can be tackled head-on. We’re also working with community groups and watch schemes to safeguard their local neighbourhoods and make life more difficult for rural thieves.”