NFU Mutual has advised farmers to review their security measures as winter draws in, warning rural thefts could increase this year with fewer people out and about.
Most recent claims data from the insurer revealed October to December was the costliest quarter in the last two years, prompting the call for farmers to be vigilant once clocks go back on Sunday (October 25).
In 2019, the cost of rural crime rose to its highest level in eight years, totalling £54 million, with thieves targeting high-value equipment and machinery.
Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Longer hours of darkness can present greater opportunities for criminal activity, particularly in remote rural areas which may not benefit from as much lighting, passing traffic or general footfall in the evenings as urban settings.”
She added criminals were using a range of tactics and often staked out farms by day, to return late at night and smash into tractor cabs under the cover of darkness.
Andy Manson, managing director of NFU Mutual risk management services, warned thieves will strike at any time of year, but their tactics change as nights draw in, targeting vulnerable outbuildings and taking advantage of bad weather when farmers are less likely to carry out their usual checks.
He said: “We advise farmers to look at their farm through the eyes of a thief and start with the yard and entrance. Hinge-capped gates which cannot be lifted off and good quality chains and padlocks are the first step in securing the property.
“Address what you have on display in the yard and do not give away any hints to would-be thieves of what might be inside.
“Target-harden valuable objects. This might involve creating a security cage for high-value items, including tools and quads.”