Shock rise in cost of rural crime


The cost of rural crime in Lancashire increased by more than a third in 2013, according to a leading farm insurer.

NFU Mutual’s survey puts Lancashire fifth in the list for the cost of rural crime nationally, up £500,000 from £1.3m in 2012 to £1.8m in 2013.

Nationwide, the cost of rural crime totalled an estimated £44.5m and the new figure reverses a fall of 19% in 2012.

The most common items targeted by thieves in Lancashire over the last 12 months were quadbikes, tools and livestock.

The Red Rose county is behind the Eastern counties of Cambridgeshire (£2.7m), Lincolnshire (£2.3m), Essex (£2.1m) and Kent (£1.8m) in the top five.

The NFU states that although the high-value thefts may be planned and highly organised, the number of stolen garden tools and ornaments indicates opportunist thieves continue to target gardens and outbuildings.

Garry Watson, NFU Mutual Branch Manager in Bury, said: “The cost of claims is increasing as a result of more high-value items being stolen.

“Our experience with people who live and work in rural areas of Lancashire clearly shows that theft is more than just a setback – it can be devastating for businesses and families.”

But police in Pendle believe the force is better equipped now to tackle rural crime.

Since the police started Rural Watch in Lancashire in August 2012, the number of users of the service in Burnley, Pendle, the Ribble Valley and Rossendale has risen from 13 at launch to 650 at present.

Sgt Tim Hitchen said: “We have put a lot of resources into tackling rural crime and now have officers who directly investigate instances of it and have built up good links with the rural community.

“We have taken more of a lead on crimes such as poaching, for example, in which people are also quite prepared to steal items from that area while out and about.

“I think rural crime has increased, but I also think because of schemes such as Rural Watch, where people can receive up to date information on crime via text or email, and the relationships established as a result of that, people are willing to report crimes more frequently.”