Rural crime has moved from opportunists stealing a few tools to organised criminals stealing expensive farm vehicles and live-stock. Recently, NFU Mutual reported that in 2018 agricultural crime cost £49.9 million (1). These thefts amounted to large costs to the UK with livestock theft at £2.5 million, agricultural vehicles at £7.4 million and Quad or ATV theft at £2.6 million. Of particular concern is the steady increase in livestock theft using skilfully trained sheep dogs that have been stolen too. Handsome examples of pure and rare breeds are being taken too. Livestock has also been discovered butchered in the field, leaving the entrails in the field to clear up.
Advice on measures to prevent livestock being stolen takes the form of simple old fashioned methods, of locking gates with sturdy chains and padlocks to the high tech sheep paint called TecTracer, which is used to paint fleeces with thousands of coded microdot markers (2, 3). Blocking gateways to vehicles can be effective too, if possible. There is a lot to be said for alerting neighbours so they are ready to report suspicious activity, but the advice is not to endanger themselves by approaching the ‘suspicious’ individual. The farming community often works well together in some areas like a type of neighbourhood watch, keeping close contact with mobile phones. Having a camera on the mobile phone is useful for photographing vehicles leaving your property with stolen livestock or items.
Reporting a crime is essential. Many farmers don’t report the theft of their sheep, but it is important to do it because it alerts the police and therefore other farmers that thieves are targeting your area.
It is simple to report these crimes, either by phone or online: Crimestoppers (4)
1. rural-crime-report-2019.pdf downloaded from NFU Mutal