Rural crime cost South Yorkshire farmers more than £600, 000 in a year

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Rural crime left South Yorkshire farmers more than £600, 000 out of pocket in a single year.

Statistics which form insurance company NFU Mutual's annual rural crime report show countryside offences cost £634, 910 in 2017.

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The most commonly targeted items by thieves were quad bikes, all-terrain vehicles, equine equipment and machinery.

The report also showed how farmers are using modern technology in a bid to keep the burglars at bay.

Richard Houldsworth, NFU Mutual's senior agent in South Yorkshire, said: “Countryside criminals continue to become more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.

“Social media is fast becoming the new eyes and ears of the countryside. By keeping in close touch with neighbours and police through local farmwatch schemes country people can play a significant role in identifying suspicious activity and bringing thieves to justice.

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“Fitting gates to prevent easy access to farm yards and drives is one of the most effective measures. High-tech security such as movement detectors, infra-red cameras and ‘geo-fencing’, which triggers an alarm if a farm vehicle moves off the premises, can also play a part.”

The report further revealed that limited police resources and repeat attacks are the biggest fears for people in rural communities.

However, the data did show there has been a fall in rural crime of 12 per cent when compared to the previous year, which cost farmers £786, 865.

Across the UK, the cost of rural crime has risen to £44.5 million - the highest since 2013.

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Mr Houldsworth added: "The threat of becoming a victim of rural crime, and regular reports of suspicious characters watching farms is causing high levels of anxiety among farmers who know their rural location makes them vulnerable to attacks.

“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.”