Sharp increase in cost of rural crime to region

Farm machinery is being targeted by thieves.
Farm machinery is being targeted by thieves.

There was a staggering 348 per cent increase in the financial impact of rural crime in Berwickshire last year.

While the figure for 2012 stood at £29,000, last year’s figure was £130,000 which is line with the UK wide increase in the cost of rural crime, an estimated £44.5 million.

The figure for Scotland actually dropped marginally from £2 million in 2012 to £1.9 million last year but this wasn’t a trend followed at local level.

Rural crime hit Berwickshire harder than East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian and Dumfries and Galloway, with the area’s figure only £10,000 less than the total for Lanarkshire.

One of NFU’s regional representatives for Mid and East Berwickshire, Neil White said unfortunately whilst many local farmers take a number of steps to ensure their goods are well protected, their location and the determination of thieves to steal something meant that only so much could be done.

“We are all aware that we have quite a lot of high value goods with quad bike thefts particularly common and unfortunately our isolated locations can be a big disadvantage to us.

“There are steps that can be taken to make items more difficult to be stolen and more retrievable. For example, I’ve now got data tags on my tractors and I know others who have done the same.

“With different levels of crime, right down to hare coursing, we can all try and help each other out by keeping an out for suspicious activity.”

Police officers have attended NFU meetings to offer advice and addressing the rural crime on the figures, a spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “Farms and rural properties are often considered attractive propositions for would-be thieves, given their remote locations in many instances.

“Outbuildings and vehicles should always be locked securely when unattended and where possible, alarms and CCTV cameras should be considered.

“We ask that members of the public keep a look out for any suspicious vans or lorries are parked near rural locations.”