Soaring farm crime figures have prompted rural insurers NFU Mutual to urge all farmers to review their security ahead of dark winter evenings.
Crime cost the industry £54 million last year as thieves targeted high value equipment and machinery, and the insurer revealed theft peaked in the October to December quarter in the past two years.
NFU Mutual risk management managing director Andy Manson has called on farmers to look at their farm through the eyes of a thief, starting with the yard and entrance.
“Hinge-capped gates which can’t be lifted off and good quality chains and padlocks are the first step in securing the property,” he said.
“Address what you have on display in the yard and don’t give away any hints to would-be thieves of what might be inside. Also, target-harden your valuable objects. This might involve creating a security cage for high-value items including tools and quads.
“It’s particularly important at this time of year to ramp up detectable measures. This can be anything from alarms and security lighting to CCTV, which is a fantastic deterrent.
“Farmers are embracing a range of new technology involving infrared beams that relay live footage to mobile phones and set off voice warning systems.”
The company’s rural affairs specialist, Rebecca Davidson, said while some types of rural crime fell during the early part of lockdown, the company was now seeing “alarming” rises in smaller, more portable items of kit, such as tractor GPS systems worth thousands of pounds.
She added: “The latest breed of criminal is using a range of tactics, often staking out farms by day to return late at night and smash into tractor cabs under the cover of darkness.
“The damage and disruption to agricultural activities is causing huge anxiety in the farming community and we are working with police and manufacturers to make it harder for criminals to steal from our farms and villages.”
A security checklist drawn up by the insurer includes a recommendation to mark tools, equipment and implements with a post code and to use trackers, immobilisers and CESAR-mark tractors and ATVs to deter thieves.
Farmers are also advised to join a farm watch group to stay updated about local crime trends and suspicious sightings.
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