FARMERS in Hampshire are facing increasing costs of rural crime, according to new research.
Data compiled by insurer NFU Mutual showed the cost to land managers in the county rose to nearly £1.13m last year – up by 7.2% from 2017.
Its annual Rural Crime Report said national claims figures revealed that rural crime cost the UK £50m in 2018, an increase of 12% on the previous year and the highest overall cost in seven years.
The rise was being driven mainly by high value thefts of tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles, it said – up nationally by 26% to £7.4m in 2018.
As reported in the A&T, Battramsley Farm in Shirley Holms Road, Boldre, has suffered recently. In July one of the businesses based there, garden machinery store SPG Mowers, lost £25,000 of goods in the second raid in 18 months.
However, the farm’s owner, Teddy Powell, said that although there were incidents of rural crime in the New Forest, he reckoned the district as a whole was less vulnerable than more isolated areas in the country.
Rather than farm vehicles being taken, he felt the more common type of thefts locally were either smaller incidents such as chainsaws being pinched from outbuildings or bigger raids such at SPG Mowers where thieves can get a larger haul.
“I do not feel any more threatened than five to 10 years ago but we’re always careful to keep things locked up,” Mr Powell told the A&T.
“We’re just outside Lymington, we’re not in the middle of Dorset where people can go and wander around all day long. It’s something we’re conscious of and always lock up the workshop.”
He added: “Having said that, it is an issue and you do hear of tractors and quad bikes being nicked. You have to stay vigilant.”
According to Patrick Govier, an NFU Mutual agent in Alton, the report showed that crime was “changing life” for more isolated farmers.
“From constant reports of thefts and suspicious vehicles touring the countryside and rural criminals regularly staking out farms, country people feel they are under siege,” he said.
“The report further reveals that 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.”
He added: “Our advice to people living and working in the countryside is to regularly evaluate your current security measures making improvements where necessary, remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the local
police and local farm watch schemes.”