Farmers have been urged to tighten their security measures as rural gangs shake up their tactics and work in the daylight to stake out potential suspects.
This was the warning from NFU Mutual which said although thieves will take advantage of the cover of darkness at this time of year, gangs of organised criminals are working in broad daylight, ‘staking out farms and looking for opportunities to strike’.
NFU Mutual rural insurance specialist Rebecca Davidson said: “Over the past six weeks, we have seen a rising number of thefts, with the East Midlands particularly hard hit, as tractors and telehandlers from Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire are being stolen to order and [used] to rip out cash machines.”
She added police forces were also concerned hare coursing was spreading to more counties across the UK and that it was massively under-reported because of fear of reprisal.
“We are concerned about the impact this intimidation is having on farming families,” she said.
Farmer’s son Jack Watts, whose family farms on the southern edge of Exmoor, said he had implemented low-cost biosecurity measures ‘for peace of mind’.
Measures include security lights, double fencing areas which are thought to be high risk and locking all road gates.
Mr Watts said the farm was also strongly considering a move away from road gates and instead letting them fill with hedges.
“We see gates as quite a vulnerable point for the farm,” he said.
“We are really trying to do everything we can from both a security point of a view and an activist point of view.
“It is peace of mind for me and my siblings. We see the rise of farm break-ins and activists and with that in mind we are making sure the farm is secure as possible.”