Rural crime has cost people in the South West more than £6.5 million

  • Video report by Claire Manning

The cost of crime in rural communities has cost the South West economy more than £6.5 million.

Figures released by insurers NFU Mutual show the South West has seen a substantial rise, increasing by 14% this year compared to 9% nationally.

Livestock rustling and agricultural vehicle theft have been the main causes of rural crime.

Lockdown hasn't slowed the number of animals being stolen from rural communities. Credit: ITV News West Country

Gloucestershire is the ninth worst affected county in the country, costing the community £1.6 million.

In Wiltshire, the cost of these crimes has more than doubled in the past year, totalling more than £1 million in 2019.

Lockdown restrictions have not hampered criminals as the cost of livestock theft has increased by nearly 15% when comparing April 2020 to April 2019.

Many say they live in fear of repeat attacks, like Highbridge farmer Richard Wilcox who had two quad bikes stolen on two separate occasions within 12 months.

The impact is felt greatly by those who work in the farming industry, as a survey by the insurers found a quarter of people knew someone who had been forced to change the way they lived or farmed as a result of crime.

Which of our counties are in the top 30 affected regions?

  • Gloucestershire - £1,578,829

  • Somerset - £1,382,387

  • Wiltshire - £1,066,343

  • Dorset - £881,939

Sharp rises are being driven by organised criminal gangs targeting high-value tractors, quad bikes and other farm vehicles Credit: NFU Mutual

Trends show Land Rover Defenders remain highly desirable to thieves, as do quad bikes and All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) because they are easy to transport and do not have registration plates.

NFU Mutual also highlighted the increase in tractor GPS thefts.

They typically cost between £8,000 to £10,000 and are highly sought by criminals to meet demand from overseas buyers.

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