Organised criminal gangs targeting farms in Wales cost businesses £2.6m last year

There are fears crime will increase as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is felt. Credit: PA

A rise in crime in rural parts of Wales is costing farmers millions of pounds, according to a report by insurer NFU Mutual.

The 2020 Rural Crime Report found organised criminal gangs who target high value tractors, quad bikes and livestock cost rural businesses £2.6m last year, a rise of 11% from 2018.

Livestock are just one of the targets of criminal gangs Credit: PA

There are fears this type of crime will only increase as the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is felt.

Owen Suckley, NFU Mutual Manager for Wales, said: “Rural crime is like a wave as organised criminality spreads through our farms and villages, affecting everyone in the countryside. We continue to work hard to stem the tide and are warning rural communities and helping with prevention advice, as there are concerns for the months ahead as the economic impact of Coronavirus bites.

“As well as the financial cost, there’s a serious effect on the mental well-being of people living in rural and often isolated areas. There are fears that the impact will be felt harder this year as farmers have been working flat-out to feed the nation and many rural communities have been put under additional pressure by the challenges brought by COVID-19.”

Rural Crime Trends

Quads and ATVs

  • Quads and ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) are disappearing from farms in large numbers – thanks to being easy to transport and absence of registration plates


  • Thieves are increasingly cloning the identity of tractors to make detection more difficult

  • Thieves are stealing expensive tractors costing over £50,000 for export to developed counties and small, older tractors to export to third world countries


  • Although rustling dropped at the start of the year, initial figures suggest nearly a 15% increase in cost year on year in April as thieves targeted farms under lockdown

  • Technology - including DNA testing, fleece marking with micro-dots, electronic chips and boluses - now offers robust evidence to help bring rustlers to justice

  • Thefts of large numbers of lambs are raising concerns that stock is being stolen for slaughter and processing outside regulated abattoirs before illegally entering the food chain

The new figures released today will be used by rural crime teams within the police to help them understand trends in their area.