Rural crime: How you can help prevent rural theft

To kickstart National Rural Crime Action Week, The CLA’s Helen Dale looks at key rural crime figures and provides helpful tips for members to prevent theft from their property
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We know that theft in rural areas remains a key issue for CLA members. Figures provided by CLA insurance over the last 12 months indicate that machinery and tool theft has increased by over 25% and theft of GPS has increased by over 10%.

But it's not just theft of agricultural machinery and equipment that is an issue for rural areas. We also know that livestock theft is on the rise, increasing by nearly 10%. Equine theft, including tack and associated equipment remains an issue. With rising fuel prices, we have also seen an associated increase in fuel theft.

It's not just the cost of stolen items which impacts properties and rural businesses, losses are compounded by loss of work whilst replacement tools/equipment are sought, causing anxiety and stress for members. This also has an impact on the wider rural community, which can then feel an isolated and vulnerable place.

We know that police forces across the regions are working hard to address rural crime and we have seen significant wins over the last 12 months. Leicestershire rural crime team have recovered £1million worth of farm and agricultural machinery over the last 12 months. Warwickshire police have had a dedicated rural crime team in place since 2019 and only last week seized a large number of stolen plant and agricultural vehicles from two locations, estimated value £500k.

But landowners and rural businesses also need to play a part in protecting property and equipment and helping to deter thieves.

What can you do to deter thieves?

There are lots of small ways in which you can take action to deter thieves from lingering at your property. A lot of them are fairly obvious - so obvious in fact that many of us don't always remember to do them and they can seem like an extra chore at the end of a very busy day. But thieves can take advantage wherever they see opportunities and an easier target.

So here are our top tips to help prevent theft:

  • Store high value equipment in a secure location. Even at the end of a long day it is worth considering taking machinery back to the yard or a more secure location.

  • Don't leave vehicle and machinery keys with the vehicle (it sounds obvious, but it still happens).

  • Remove GPS equipment when not in use. It may seem like a nuisance to remove these at the end of the day, but how will it impact your work the next day if it's gone?

  • Invest in available technological solutions for protecting equipment and machinery. There are various options to use the latest technology, such as DATATAG ID, to protect your property. As well as acting as a deterrent it can also increase the likelihood of recovery if your vehicles are stolen.

  • Invest in your building and property security. Are your farm buildings locked when not in use? Does the whole farm team take farm security as seriously as you? Could you invest in better locks to make it more difficult for thieves?

  • Keep a list of tools and any identifying marks or serial numbers.

  • Work with your local community. Many rural areas operate WhatsApp crime groups. These can be useful ways to be aware of any local issues but also provide greater intelligence for the police to enable them to do their job more effectively.

The CLA team continues to represent members across the regions on local rural crime policing groups. We have representation on the National Rural Crime Unit and input to new legislation, such as the recent Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill, which will provide power for the Secretary of State to make regulations requiring immobilisers and forensic marking to be fitted as standard to all new quad bikes and ATVs.

Rural Crime

Visit our Rural Crime hub to find out more

Key contact:

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Helen Dale Rural Adviser, CLA Midlands