Rural crimes have cost Lancashire’s economy an estimated £2.1m in the last year.
Farm-related crimes spiralled by almost a fifth in 12 months as quad bikes, commercial tools and 4x4s top are targeted by countryside thieves.
Rural thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticatedJo Oliver
The figures, which form part of insurer NFU Mutual’s annual Rural Crime Report, suggest Lancashire is the second biggest hotspot the UK for rural criminals, despite figures remaining the same nationally.
Police and communities face an ongoing battle in the county, of which three-quarters is classed as rural, and crimes have increased despite the introduction of schemes like Farm Watch.
In March, three people were arrested and 35 vehicles stopped and checked as part of a crackdown in north Lancashire.
ChiefInspector Julian Platt, force operational lead for rural crime, said: “A significant proportion of Lancashire is rural and we are committed to making sure it is safe and communities in these areas feel safe.
“We are working hard to better understand the scale and impact of rural crime and we would encourage people living in rural areas to sign up to In The Know so that we can send you alerts about crime in your area and help you to keep yourselves and your property safe. Partnership working is key in detecting and preventing rural crimes and we will continue to work alongside our partners, including NFU Mutual, so we can better understand the challenge.”
Jo Oliver, NFU Mutual senior agent in Lancashire said: “It’s disappointing to see Lancashire is a hotspot for rural crime in the UK with the cost for the county the second highest in the UK. Rural thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated and using computers rather than bolt cutters to steal from farms and country properties.
“Farmers and police have been working hard to adopt high-tech security measures to tackle the problems which now include: cloning tractor identities, advertising non-existent machinery in agricultural publications and stealing the GPS computer systems which are a key part of modern farming.”
The survey revealed social media is the main resource for sharing information about crime in rural communities and is a valuable tool for prevention and for catching criminals and returning stolen goods. Anyone with information can call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.