Rural crime is at near record levels and is estimated to have cost the UK economy £44.5m in 2013, according to the survey which also reports that incidences of livestock theft are up by 25%.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Tim Price of NFU Mutual said: “Criminals are increasingly turning to rural areas because security in urban communities with the prevalence of CCTV cameras is making it more difficult to get away with things in towns and cities.
“We used to see small numbers of stock being stolen, three to five animals at a time, but that has increased dramatically with up to 200 animals being taken in a raid. The rustling is being carried out on a much more organised scale.”
He added that those stealing the animals must have experience in handling livestock and the meat would most probably be sold on the black market.
Sarah Lee, head of policy for the Countryside Alliance said: “Crime affects all of us, whether we live in the town or rural areas, but as these figures show thieves think of the countryside as easy pickings. It is very important that Police and Crime Commisioners take the issue of rural crime seriously.
“We need to look at innovative ways to tackle this problem, that is why the National Rural Crime Network, of which the Countryside Alliance is a partner, is so important. We hope that by sharing information and best practice, joined-up campaigns and a consistent crime prevention message we can make a difference to rural crime figures.”
Headlines from the 2014 NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey
• Rural theft estimated to have cost UK economy £44.5m in 2013
• Driven up by thefts of high-value tractors worth up to £80,000
• Livestock theft up 25% as thieves target sheep and cattle
• Eastern side of England and Northern Ireland see largest rises