The cost of rural crime in Scotland was up 62.2% last year to more than £1.57 million, according to NFU Mutual.
Figures in the rural insurer’s 2019 Rural Crime Report, published today, also reveal the cost of rural crime in the UK as a whole was £50m last year – up 12% on 2017 and the highest overall cost in seven years.
It said the sharp rises were driven mainly by high-value thefts of tractors and other farm vehicles – up 26% to £4.7m last year.
The cost of livestock thefts reported to NFU Mutual was also up 3.7% to £2.4m last year.
Scotland’s 62% increase was the highest in the UK, although the country’s rural crime cost remains below the UK averages.
The items most commonly targeted by thieves in Scotland last year were ATVs and quads, tools and fuel.
“One of the most alarming findings from this year’s report is that fear of crime is changing life in the countryside,” said NFU Mutual’s regional manager in Scotland, Martin Malone.
“From constant reports of thefts and suspicious vehicles touring the countryside and rural criminals regularly staking out farms, country people feel they are under siege.”
He said although the increase in the cost of rural crime in Scotland was disappointing, the figure would have been much higher had Police Scotland’s Sparc (The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime) initiative not been in place.
“The threat of becoming a victim of rural crime, and regular reports of suspicious characters watching farms is causing high levels of anxiety amongst farmers who know their rural location makes them vulnerable to attacks,” added Mr Malone.
“Our advice to people living and working in the countryside is to regularly evaluate your current security measures making improvements where necessary, remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the local police and local farm watch schemes.”