RURAL crime across Worcestershire costs the county £1,036,015 last year, new figures have revealed.
This is despite the county seeing a slight fall of 2.8 per cent from £1,065,751 in 2016.
The figures form part of NFU Mutual’s annual rural crime report which revealed the UK had a rise of 13.4 per cent in the cost of rural crime last year.
Items most commonly targeted by thieves across Worcestershire over the last 12 months were quad bikes and ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) as well as machinery and tools.
Louise Sapwell, NFU Mutual’s senior agent in Worcestershire, said: “Countryside criminals continue to become more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.
“Social media is fast becoming the new eyes and ears of the countryside.
“By keeping in close touch with neighbours and police through local farmwatch schemes country people can play a significant role in identifying suspicious activity and bringing thieves to justice.
“Fitting gates to prevent easy access to farm yards and drives is one of the most effective measures.
“High-tech security such as movement detectors, infra-red cameras and ‘geo-fencing’, which triggers an alarm if a farm vehicle moves off the premises, can also play a part.”
The report further revealed limited police resources and repeat attacks are the biggest fears for people in rural communities, with many forced to change the way they live and work as a result of rural crime.
Louise added: “The threat of becoming a victim of rural crime, and regular reports of suspicious characters watching farms is causing high levels of anxiety among farmers who know their rural location makes them vulnerable to attacks.
“Our advice to people living and working in the countryside is to regularly evaluate your current security measures, making improvements where necessary.
“It’s important to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the local police and local farm watch schemes so they have a realistic view of the problem.”