Most common thefts

Photographer: Callum Bennetts''There has been a number of quad bikes stolen from farms recently.
Photographer: Callum Bennetts''There has been a number of quad bikes stolen from farms recently.

Quad bikes, tools, oil and diesel topped thieves’ wish-lists in a rural crime spree last year.

New research has shown incidents of ‘agri-crime’ in Scotland rose 12 per cent in 2012, costing farmers and rural businesses £2m.

Overall UK rural theft levels fell by 20 per cent last year, but Scotland bucked the trend over the same period.

The figures, based on claims data, have been released to coincide with the publication of the annual NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey.

Unlike other crime reports, the insurer’s includes claims for crimes against homes, farms, commercial premises and vehicles.

Quad bikes were the most targeted item in Scotland, while tools and fuel such as domestic heating oil and red diesel also proved popular with criminals.

Statistics from the survey also suggested the majority of rural crime is planned rather than opportunist.

Roger Jamieson, NFU Mutual regional service manager for Scotland, said that much more still needs to be done to thwart rural criminals and minimise the devastating impact of crime in the countryside.

“As a mutual organisation owned by, and run for, our members, we have a responsibility to work along with those in the countryside to improve security and tackle crime,” he said.

“We are now starting to see the benefits from communities working hard together with the police and wider industry. However, people shouldn’t become complacent - they need to make security a priority issue on their farms, businesses and homes.”

Driving the national reduction in rural crime was a significant fall in claim costs for tractor and quad bike thefts, which accounted for more than one third of all thefts by value. In contrast 2012 saw a slight increase in cost levels for livestock theft.

Thefts of garden furniture and ornaments, stone and chemicals have been identified as emerging trends over the last 12 months and NFU Mutual believes some thefts in particular are likely to be repeated as the criminals return to plunder the replacements.

The results of the survey also indicate that prevention is better than cure, with branches believing high-tech security measures like CCTV and tracker devices, as well as more traditional measures such as locks, are more effective than a greater police presence or than tougher sentencing for criminals.

Some of the more unusual defence mechanisms used by NFU Mutual members include keeping geese to alert homeowners of trespassers, housing louder and more aggressive animals such as llamas in with other livestock, or installing fog machines to disorientate intruders and retractable cattle grids to keep uninvited vehicles out.

There have been a number of rural crimes in the Berwickshire area over the past year including the theft of livestock.