Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Somerset were among the 11 English counties where claims against rural crime cost more than £1m – as increasingly sophisticated thieves deploy the latest tech to fleece long-suffering farmers.
We believe the West’s rural communities must be prepared to dig deep and fit the very latest kit in order to match the crooks’ increasingly sophisticated gadgetry.
Rural crime can frequently be the ‘final straw’ for hard-pressed farmers trying to keep an eye on widely spread property and multiple access points.
According to the NFU Rural Crime Now report, farm transport is also a favourite target for the thieves, being stolen to order, broken down for parts or shipped out of the country in ‘a matter of hours’.
While farmers will be relieved to see livestock thefts have dropped off slightly, theft of tools, quad vehicles and Land Rover Defenders is becoming commonplace.
Trailers are also a frequent target for the crooks.
You can often see these parked up in strange places as the thieves steal them then leave them to see if they have a Tracker device. If no one comes to claim them they are then removed for good.
Sheep rustling and fuel theft were also commonplace.
And while no theft is intended, crop circles are basically criminal damage and are also costing farmers a small fortune.
We have been encouraging our farming and rural business contacts to ensure they have the means to fight back – incorporating high-tech solutions to better protect their farms and plant in order to combat rising rural crime.
Another factor is that the myriad technological advancements being made in farming means farm plant and equipment is becoming more expensive - and worth more to the thieves.
The higher the value of equipment on a farm kit increases the risk and speeds disposal.
With the vast majority of farms situated away from major settlements there are more opportunities for criminals to operate – and far less chance of being cornered by the police.
We have also heard incidences of crooks setting up drone surveillance systems to ‘case’ remote farms!
It is clear farmers need to look at the cost of installing solutions as it will certainly save them money in the long run.
Smartphone connections to cameras can cover perimeters and approaches. We are also seeing benefits in remote livestock monitoring, which remind farmers the delivery driver has arrived and can even be deployed as a predator control.
Surveillance installations can be easily moved around the holding, helping farmers safeguard against theft, livestock worrying, on-farm fires and other increasingly frequent crimes.
Wireless, with no need for connectivity systems can be powered by PV or wind.
Farmers should also consider remote gate operation to ensure there is no easy vehicular access to their land or property.
Although police are ready to help it is up to our farmers to incorporate every high-tech system they can to maintain security and must be vigilant at all times.