The CLA in the North is warning farmers and rural landowners to review their security arrangements in a bid to reduce thefts of equipment and vehicles from farms in the region.
According to CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn, a combination of dark nights and economic uncertainty is a recipe for an increase in rural crime.
She said: "At this time of year, with its short days and long nights, there is always an increase in countryside crime. With the added catalysts of a fragile economy and belt-tightening measures for many families this year, we are already starting to see a swell of rural criminal offences such as theft and fly-tipping.
"Rural areas can provide rich and easy pickings. Crime in rural areas takes many forms and is made easier for the perpetrator by the relative isolation of homes and businesses, a maze of county lanes unmonitored by CCTV, lack of street lighting, miles of legal public access close to properties and low visible police presence."
The CLA is advising farmers and landowners to take simple steps to protect themselves and their property such as not leaving tools lying around, ensuring keys are removed from vehicles and that sheds and other outbuildings are properly secured. Rural residents off the mains gas supply grid, who rely on heating oil are also being urged to protect their supplies by install locks on tank filler/vent caps and checking tank levels on a regular basis to ensure fuel is not being siphoned off.
Miss Fairburn added: "We are urging our members to have a look around their premises with a thief's eye, to identify vulnerable spots and areas in permanent darkness. Anyone who needs further help should contact the crime prevention officer at their local police station or talk to a specialist security company. And last but by no means least - if you see a crime, report it."