1. ITV Report

Farms ‘turned into fortresses’ amid rural crime rise

Thieves target farms to steal valuable livestock, vehicles and machinery. Credit: PA

Farmers are having to turn their property in fortresses to try to ward off thieves, amid a sharp rise in rural crime over the last six months.

According to insurer NFU Mutual, there was a slight drop in the cost of rural crime across the UK last year to just under £40m – but early statistics appear to show a spike in the first half of this year.

In 2016, Northern Ireland accounted for £2.5m of the total rural crime costs, compared with £1.6m in Scotland, £1.3m in Wales, and just under £34m in England.

Farmers are said to be resorting to increasingly high-tech methods of crime prevention, including infra-red surveillance and installing tracking devices.

“The sharp rise in the first half of 2017 is deeply worrying,” Tim Price, from NFU Mutual, said.

“Countryside criminals are becoming more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.”

He added: “In some parts of the country, farmers are having to turn their farmyards into fortresses to protect themselves from repeated thieves who are targeting quads, tractors and power tools.”