Rural theft cost Cambridgeshire £2 million in 2020
- Credit: POLICING EAST CAMBS
Rural theft cost Cambridgeshire an estimated £2,018,000 in 2020, according to figures from rural insurer NFU Mutual.
Despite a slight drop from the previous year (-0.5 per cent), the county remained one of the worst affected counties in the UK by cost, second only to Lincolnshire (£2,480,000).
With the pandemic helping to keep criminals out of the countryside, the eastern region saw a decrease of almost 21 per cent with the region’s rural theft bill totalling an estimated £6.4m in 2020.
This makes it the lowest annual cost recorded in five years as coronavirus restrictions helped to keep thieves out of the countryside.
Criminals continued to plague Cambridgeshire’s farmyards over the pandemic, stealing high-value farming global positioning systems, agricultural vehicles and tools.
Other rural crimes, including dog attacks on livestock and fly-tipping rose sharply across the UK.
Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “While lockdown may have locked some criminals out of the countryside – rural crime hasn’t gone away.
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"Thieves are now returning armed with new tactics and targets.
"As the economic impact of the pandemic bites, we are very concerned that rural theft may escalate significantly.
“Last year saw sharp rises in other crimes such as dog attacks on livestock which caused appalling suffering to farm animals and huge anxiety for farmers and their families as they dealt with the aftermath.
“Organised criminal gangs also continued to target farmyards for high-value GPS systems, quad bikes and tractors.
"It means the UK cost of agricultural vehicle theft remains at over £9million - only a two per cent drop in cost from 2019.
“There’s no doubt that when we work together with police, farmers, communities and other rural organisations to tackle rural crime it can make a real difference.
"That’s why we’re investing over £430,000 in carefully targeted rural security schemes this year.
"The extra funding will help police join forces with local farmers, set up covert operations and recover more stolen machinery from countries across Europe.
“We believe this is vital support because rural crime isn’t just about money to replace stolen tractors.
"It causes disruption, seriously affects farmers’ mental well-being and destroys the trust which enables rural communities to flourish.
“With more and more people using the countryside, we are urging the public to support farmers and rural communities by reporting suspicious sightings and crimes to the police."