NFU Mutual Report reveals thefts stabilised during the pandemic, but cost-of-living crisis could fuel a surge in criminal activity
Figures from the latest NFU Mutual Rural Crime Report reveal that rural theft cost the UK £40.5 million last year - a 9.3% decrease on the previous year. However, farming communities are being warned not to get too complacent as the first quarter of 2022 suggests a worrying return to pre-pandemic crime levels, with a 40% increase in crime costs from the same period last year. Tracker Network (UK) Ltd, is joining the NFU in urging the rural community to remain vigilant and review their security systems.
Further analysis of the NFU Report also confirms that the total cost of agricultural vehicle theft claims remained at the same level last year at £9.1m, with organised criminal gangs continuing to target farmyards for high-value tractors, GPS systems and trailers.
Commenting on the trends, Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker, said: “Although the cost of agricultural vehicle theft claims remained the same in 2021, it appears that this year the story is already very different. The cost-of-living crisis is not only putting a strain on farming communities, but it is also fuelling greater interest in used and older farming vehicles and equipment from thieves looking to fill the shortfall in new assets due supply chain disruptions.
“A recent NFU Mutual poll has already revealed that a staggering 89% of farmers are worried that inflation and the increased cost of living will lead to an increase in rural crime. The cost of essential items like diesel and fertilizer is set to soar, so theft of vehicles/equipment could be even more devastating for the community in the upcoming months. Which is exactly why we are urging individuals to put strict measures in place to protect themselves from opportunist thieves and organised crime groups.”
“We have seen several times that criminal gangs will steal to order and quickly ship the goods abroad to places like Eastern Europe and North Africa, and farming equipment is high on thieves shopping lists as demand continues to grow,” continued Clive Wain. “It is crucial that farming communities take the necessary steps to protect their property, including blocking field entrances, digging ditches around fields and upgrading building security and installing CCTV.
“Whilst all of these are effective, the most effective to ensure a stolen vehicle is returned to its rightful owner is by fitting a tracking device. This won’t necessarily stop the vehicle or equipment from being stolen, but it will significantly increase the prospect of successful recovery and minimise any devastating financial loss for farming communities.”
Tracker has an unrivalled stolen vehicle recovery rate of more than 95%, and 80% of stolen vehicles are recovered within 24 hours thanks to its exclusive nationwide partnership with the UK’s police. Tracker’s solutions work like an electronic homing device. A covert transmitter is hidden in one of several dozen places around the vehicle. There is no visible aerial, so the thief won’t know it’s there. VHF technology unique to Tracker makes its units resistant to GPS/GSM jamming, confirming Tracker as a superior security defence against determined thieves.
Simple steps to better protect quad bikes and ATVs
- Always remove keys from the vehicle and store them securely.
- Do not leave the vehicle unattended in fields or visible from roads.
- Store vehicles in the most secure building on the farm, preferably covered by CCTV or visible from the house or road, and in a well-lit area to deter thieves.
- Invest in a quad vice or ground stake and chain to add a physical barrier to slow down thieves and prevent opportunistic thefts.
- Be diligent about always using deterrents and locks such as ram locks, steering lock, pedal locks and immobilisers.
- Install a tracking device so the vehicle can be located quickly in the event of a theft, to avoid down time and protect insurance premiums. Tracker devices use a unique combination of GPS/GSM and VHF technology to ensure vehicles can be located if stored underground, in a shipping container, or taken to Europe.
NFU Mutual policyholders can benefit from up to 12.5% discounts on policies covering a tractor or quad bike with a Tracker device fitted.
 NFU Mutual Rural Crime Report 2022: https://www.nfumutual.co.uk/globalassets/farming/rural-crime/nfu-mutual-rural-crime-report-20222.pdf